Advancing National Service

You Won’t Believe How Much This Record-Setting 85-Year-Old Veteran Has Given Back

January 1, 2014
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You Won’t Believe How Much This Record-Setting 85-Year-Old Veteran Has Given Back
Kathryn Scott Osler/The Denver Post via Getty Images
Bill Cell has donated a gallon of blood for every year of his life, and he's still going strong.

The first time Bill Cell, 85, donated blood was in 1946. Back then, phlebotomists thanked him for his donation with a shot of bourbon and $25. But even when the liquor-and-cash incentives dried up, Cell continued to donate. “They’ll tell me what my blood went for, like a cancer patient or an accident victim,” Cell told the Denver Post, explaining why he continues to give as much as he does. “I have met a couple of people who needed it.”

Starting in 1969, Bonfils Blood Center in Denver, where Cell makes his donations, began logging how much people contributed. This week, Cell set the record for the center, having donated 85 gallons of A+ blood since the center began keeping track. He beats the next highest donor by 15 gallons, and he has no plans to quit anytime soon. Since 1990, he’s given a pint of blood at least once every two weeks — a rate that the center’s supervisor notes is possible for most healthy adults. And, yet, only about 4% of Americans give blood, with donations dropping off during the holidays. So if you’re looking for an easy way to make a potentially life-saving difference in another person’s life, now’s the time.

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