When Desire “Des” Crow of Xenia arrives at the downtown Dayton Community Blood Center (CBC) it’s a family visit. He retired from CBC in 2004 after 10 years as a mobile blood drive coordinator and maintenance staffer. His CBC family knows Des as a faithful friend dedicated to the long haul; from the steady pace of ultra-marathon running to the selfless act of saving lives over the course of 300 lifetime blood donations.
Des reached his milestone 300th LTD with his regular apheresis donation Wednesday, Jan. 16. His personal history with CBC dates back before the move to the current headquarters on North Main Street. “I started donating whole blood in 1970,” he said. “My first donation was down at the Fidelity Building (where CBC first operated on the lower floor). There’ve been lots of changes since then!”
To pass the time during his platelet donation Des brought along “A Patriot’s History of the Modern World,” co-authored by University of Dayton history professor Larry Schweikart. He thought the UD connection was interesting, but he doesn’t consider himself a history buff. Even so, he has helped write some of the pages of modern CBC history.
He remembers being recruited as an apheresis donor because his blood could be particularly helpful to an infant named Melissa Stover. Missy was diagnosed at birth with factor I deficiency, also known as congenital afibrinogenemia. It is a rare bleeding disorder in which the blood does not clot normally due to the lack of the fibrinogen protein.
Missy’s father served in the Air Force and when she was six months old the family was transferred to Dayton so Missy could receive care from a hematologist at Wright Patterson Air Force Base.
“They selected six of us to be the sole donors for the little girl,” said Des. “That’s when I started doing apheresis.” The treatments helped Missy survive. “They had a reception here and I got to meet her. That was when she was 15,” said Des. “Her family was here, they were really nice, and she was a very nice kid.”
Missy died in 2010 at the age of 21. But with the help of donors like Des, she was able to embrace life. She married and was a passionate advocate for the bleeding disorder community, volunteering with the Southwestern Ohio Hemophilia Foundation, FamOhio, and Community Blood Bank and CSL Behring. Her lifetime hematologist, Dr. Emmett Broxson, is now director of hematology/oncology at Dayton Children’s.
Des went through a 10-year period when he was unable to donate, due to medications needed for a health concern. He overcame it, and began donating again.
He embraced good health through a long career as an ultra-marathon runner. He ran seven 50-mile ultra-marathons between 1987 and 1993, returning annually to The JFK 50 Mile Challenge in Washington County, MD which this year will mark its 50th anniversary. It was one of many 50-mile events held around the country as part of President John F. Kennedy’s 1963 push to bring the country back to physical fitness. Many of the events faded after Kennedy’s assassination, but the JFK 50 Mile is the only original event to be held every year.
Des has logged 69,000 miles of road running, and notes, “I never had an injury.” His ultra-marathon days are behind him, but he says, “I still do seven miles every day.” He remains in every way a long-distance runner, a steady friend, and a faithful “Donor for Life.” It’s a personal history he continues to write.