DAYTON, Ohio – Every blood donation is a celebration of life because of what it means for someone in need. The milestone donation celebrated Saturday, March 22 by Huber Heights donor David L. Cramer was also a chance to bring old friends together at the Dayton Community Blood Center (CBC) and reflect on what it means to be a “Donor for Life.”
David is retired Dayton Police Officer who on Saturday made his 200th whole blood donation. He has donated platelets eight times for a total of 208 lifetime blood donations, but he prefers to think of the milestone as his 25th gallon of donated blood.
“This is my 46th year giving blood and 45th with the blood center,” David said. “I’m also bone marrow donor and I’m very proud and very blessed to be able to do that. I am privileged for the 17 years I was a bone marrow donor. I was able to donate bone marrow one time, and that was Nov. 1, 2005 for a nine year old little boy in Munich, Germany and I understand he’s doing quite well.”
David was joined Saturday by several old friends from CBC and Community Tissue Services, including Amy Moeder, Carolyn Conner and retired CBC apheresis specialist Marilyn Staker, who managed the blood donor program and recruited David as a donor.
His journey as a blood donor began in 1969 when he was a freshman at Bowling Green University. “My roommate said ‘Let’s got to infirmary and give blood, they give you cookies and things.’ We went and donated and the nurse told me, ‘You go ahead and get your cookies, your buddy will be here a while. He fainted!’”
David has seldom been faint of heart when it comes to challenges and personal goals, including blood donations. He returned home to attend the University of Dayton, where he was captain of the baseball team, and soon began a long career with CBC.
“My mother saw it in the newspaper and said, ‘Go to blood center and they’ll give you a dozen red roses for volunteering. ‘ That’s where I met Marilyn Staker, that’s how my career got started and I’ve just hung in there all these years. It was around my 10th gallon I got serious about it and became an eight week donor. I got the roses and gave them to my mother.”
David served as Dayton Police officer for 13 years and won the Medal of Valor before retiring on disability in 1989. Since then he has remained extremely active. He was a baseball umpire for 25 years and was so successful in the Senior Olympics he has been nominated for the Ohio Senior Olympics Hall of Fame.
“I always ran and enjoyed physical activity,” he said. “I ran 5K, 10K and the marathon in the Senior Olympics. Shovel board is one of my big ones. High jump, long jump, billiards, bowling – I’ve done 36 different sports in the Senior Olympics in 14 years.”
His competitive nature made him a strong supporter of the former CBC Life Leaders program, a challenge between teams of donors. “I was a charter member of the program,” he said. “I always joined a team. There were six of us on a team, and the team had to give a minimum of 35 donations. You got a plaque or stick-on year for the year you gave. I was on six championship teams because we hit the mark of 35.”
“The last team I was on was called the “Heart Throbs” because it was Dr. Judith Woll’s team.” Dr. Woll served as chief executive officer of CBC/CTS from 1994 to 2007. “I was the only guy on the team,” said David. “We smoked ‘em! We won five championships. I realized I meet people who have to stop giving for medical and physical reasons and I’m down here giving for them too.”
He’s also proud of his “streaks” of consecutive eight-week periods when he donated as soon as he was eligible. His run of 21 straight eight-week donations from June 24, 2002 to Aug. 31 2005 ended with his bone marrow donation. His next streak was 35 eight-week donations from Feb. 1, 2006 to June 15 2011.
“My motivation has changed over the years,” he said. “Now it’s to give back to the community. Back in the beginning, it was the trinkets, the plaques the little pins… I want that 15 gallon pin, then the next one. Then I got older. When I was a policeman, I realized one good shotgun wound, one good accident, you may need blood and technology has no replacement for blood. I just do my part. I go down there every eight weeks to help the community.”
David says he has nine words to describe himself: Committed, consistent, competitive, charismatic, dedicated, disciplined, enthused, loyal, and passionate. It was the competitor in him coming through when he quoted a Reds baseball Hall-of-Famer to put his “Donor for Life” history in perspective. “You just got to keep swinging the bat,” he said. “As Joe Nuxhall said, if you swing the bat you’re dangerous.”