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Blood Donor Gets A+ for Effort
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Sharon J Alfred
April 30, 2008

Even if you didn't know Richard Newbert's blood type, you'd probably guess it's A+ (A-positive), because that's the kind of effort he gives.

"Hero" volunteer Richard Newbert donates his time and blood at a local Red Cross collection site.

The 65-year-old Pennsylvania resident has been donating blood since he was 20 years old. That means he has donated 43 gallons of blood, enough to save the lives of more than a thousand patients. His dedication prompted the American Red Cross Lower Bucks County Chapter in Levittown, Pennsylvania, to include him in its honor roll of "Real Heroes."

Ironically, Newbert doesn't like needles and makes it a point not to look at his arm while he's donating. He takes a "mind over matter" philosophy to giving blood and tries to stick to a regular donation schedule.

"I try never to look," he says. "I've never seen a needle being put into my arm, and I've only seen a needle in my arm half a dozen times. I tell people that if someone is as afraid of needles as I am but I still donate blood, so can they."

And donate they do. Newbert's passion for donating has inspired many others to begin or resume donating or consider participating in a platelet program. His goal is to keep finding ways to encourage more folks to donate and educate people who already donate about doing more, such as joining an aphaeresis program or becoming a bone marrow donor.

A "Calling" to Donate Blood

Newbert know from personal experience how donating blood can make a difference. Just 28 days after his birth he was near death, suffering from pyloric stenosis—a condition in which the part of the stomach (the pylorus) that leads into the small intestine narrows, causing the victim to throw up at a severe rate. Newbert survived by receiving a lifesaving transfusion of blood from his father.

Many of Newbert's own blood donations have also had a family connection. He has made many donations in the name of his sister, who died of cancer in 1974. As part of her treatments, she needed to receive blood transfusions.

The "family affair" doesn't end there—Newbert's wife, Debbie, is also a donor, having given more than 250 times. In the late 1990s they began scheduling themselves for aphaeresis donations every other Saturday morning. Newbert describes what they do as bordering on a "calling."

"There are no material rewards [for giving blood]," he says. "It gives both of us a good feeling to do something for others, even if we'll never know who they are."

About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and counsels victims of disasters; provides nearly half of the nation's blood supply; teaches lifesaving skills; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a charitable organization – not a government agency – and depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its humanitarian mission. For more information, please visit www.redcross.org or join our blog at www.redcrosschat.org.

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