Universal donor and Vietnam veteran Millard Russell, Jr. is the proud winner of Fran Duell’s “Patriot Day Afghan” drawing. Millard took part in the “Last Chance Luau” celebration at the Dayton Community Blood Center on Aug. 28 and made his 39th lifetime blood donation on Sept. 12.
Millard and his wife Marie live in Dayton and have been married 45 years. “We were engaged the same day of his Vietnam deployment and we got married on Christmas,” she said. As a proud Army veteran, Millard admires the dazzling Patriot Day Afghan, hand knitted by donor and long-time CBC supporter Fran Duel with silver thread and red-white-and-blue yard. But he had Marie in mind when he entered the drawing.
“I did it for my wife,” he said. “She’s a 25-year breast cancer survivor. We’ve been blessed, both of us. I’m a Vietnam survivor. My mom is 90 and she’s a two-time cancer survivor.”
Millard is considered a “universal donor” because of his O-negative blood type, which is constantly in demand. He registered to donate at the Last Chance Luau, but was deferred because of poison ivy blisters he picked up while doing yard work. It cleared up and he returned to donate Sept. 12. The next day he was working in the yard again, and started having shoulder and back pains. He ended up spending the next four days in the hospital.
“I went in with some back issues,” he said. “But they asked all these questions and eventually it was what about your chest? The back problem went on the back burner and they started looking at my heart and I went in to have a stress test.”
The good news is that Millard is recovering, and proceeding with caution through follow up appointments. But despite a busy schedule Thursday, Millard made a point of visiting CBC to claim the afghan for Marie. “Please tell Fran it’s beautiful,” said Marie. “God bless her!”