Beavercreek donor Frank Timko spent his career finding ways for Air Force jets to fly fast, but his true passion is making trains – electric toy trains – run on time. He repairs them in his spare time, and keeps a railway time schedule for blood donations. He marked World Blood Donor Day on Tuesday, June 14 with his milestone 200th lifetime blood donation.
Frank’s wife Diana joined him at the Dayton Community Blood Center and made her 97th lifetime blood donation as Frank reached his milestone. “It’s a good idea to give,” he said. “I’m CMV-negative so I know that’s helped a lot of kids who have used my blood.”
Frank is considered a “baby donor” because he has not been exposed to cytomegalovirus, or CMV. Most adults have been exposed to this common flu-like virus at some time in their lives. Hospitals prefer to use blood from CMV negative donors for pediatric units to ensure the safety of blood transfusions to newborns.
Frank guesses he began donating in the early 70’s. He was a whole blood donor, but soon began donating platelets and plasma. “I started giving apheresis when it was up on the second floor,” he recalled. “But I’ve been doing whole blood lately because I had prostate cancer about six years ago and quit donating for about five years.”
He returned to donating in 2014 and in 2015 made six whole blood donations. Suddenly he was “back on track” for reaching his 200th donation. “I wasn’t looking for it,” he said. “I just put out my arm! I’ve had a lot of hits, and a lot of scar tissue!”
He retired after 40 years with the University of Dayton Research Institute, including 20 years at Wright Patterson Air Force Base designing fuel combustion for jet planes. Frank and Diana have “seven kids between us” (three from his first marriage, four from hers) and 13 grandkids.
“I’ve always been into trains,” he said about his true passion. “After I retired I kept working on them.”
“Timko’s Repair Depot” is his small business, and he takes on jobs from model train shops around the state, and has clients around the world. “He has customers everywhere,” said Diana. “Europe, Mexico, California, all across the U.S. Our whole house is full of UPS boxes!”
His own train set runs on a 14’ x 11’ table and Diana estimates he has 500 trains in his personal railroad. “I like to tinker with them,” Frank admits.
He also enjoys helping save lives, especially after a long time away spent regaining his own health. He’s the conductor of a life line, and it always runs on time.