FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Al Whitney is a true American hero. For over half a century, he has been a constant blood donor to the Armed Services Blood Program and other donor locations throughout the United States. He has donated five gallons of whole blood. On May 12, Whitney donated his 1,030th unit of platelets at the Fort Bragg Blood Donor Center in North Carolina.
“I’m not doing this; I am being led on what I’m doing,” said Whitney, age 86. “I was in downtown Cleveland, Ohio and I saw a sign that said donate blood, so I donated. I walked out and while I’m waiting for the traffic light to change, I heard a voice that said ‘Al, you can do more than this.’ There was no one around me.”
Whitney's dedication to donating blood began in 1965. He continued running blood drives for the next 35 years. The first 20 years, he ran a blood drive every eight weeks. The last 15 years, he ran 56 blood drives per year. He retired from running blood drives in 2000.
Whitney's commitment to donating blood is not just about helping the military. He also encourages others to donate blood. He regularly talks to his friends and family about the importance of donating blood, and he encourages them to donate whenever they can.
“You’re not just donating blood; you are donating life. Go walk through a cancer ward and come back to ask me why I donate,” said Whitney.
After Whitney facilitated many blood drives, three of his previous donors contacted him. Because they volunteered to donate, testing found an aliment in their blood, prompting them to seek treatment. The ailments may not have been found otherwise.
Whitney's passion for donating blood has not gone unnoticed. He is continually highlighted by the Armed Services Blood Program, the Red Cross, local news stations and universities for his outstanding contributions.
“I don’t do it for recognition. If it gets one person to donate one pint of blood, I’ll do it.
“Donate blood,” he said. “Let a father walk his daughter down the aisle, let a mother see her son graduate from college, and a couple take their newborn baby home from the hospital.”
For those interested in donating at the Fort Bragg Blood Donor Center, call 910-396-9925, visit https://www.militarydonor.com/, or walk-in to 8- 4156 Souter Place, Fort Bragg, N.C. 28307. Their hours are Monday thru Thursday 7: 30 a.m. 3:30 p.m. and Fridays 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.