It may be the simplicity of the song, or the strength of the message, but Xenia donor Larry Tuner likes the title track “Let it Be” from the Beatles final album. It’s part of his email address, and he seems to have followed the philosophy in the quiet, unassuming way he has gone about amassing the remarkable number of 600 lifetime blood donations.
Larry relaxed with old and new friends as he made his milestone donation Thursday, Aug. 11 at the Dayton Community Blood Center. He retired from system analysis at NCR in 2002, but then spent four years working in IT for CBC. He’s a familiar face in the Donor Room, consistently averaging 24 platelet and plasma donations a year. His 600th donation put him just 17 donations shy of Wendell Clark of Eaton, CBC’s much heralded top all-time donor, who made his 617th donation on Aug. 8.
Like Wendell, Larry has a long history of donating whole blood before switching to apheresis. “My first 20 gallons where whole blood,” he said. He was a college intern at NCR in 1966 when the journey began. “I was working in the factory and someone came up and asked if anyone wanted to donate. That was my first donation.”
He served in the Army Reserves and then learned what would be his career calling. “They had started a new thing called ‘computers,’” he said. He went to Southern Ohio College in Cincinnati, which later became UC’s IT department. He worked at Harris as operation manager of the date center then returned to NCR in 1979.
He recalls being asked to try apheresis donations around 1994. “They said, don’t worry about whole blood anymore!” he said. “When I first started we were on the second floor, needle in both arms, you had to have a nurse on each arm, and you were donating for about three and a half hours. That’s about how long it took, and you couldn’t move the whole time.”
He served on the apheresis advisory board, and captained “Life Leaders” teams at NCR and Holy Trinity Church. “We were trying to beat the other teams,” he said. “The award dinners were always a lot of fun, always beautiful events.”
His mission then and now remains the same: “How do we get more blood?” In the early days of apheresis donating he might be called in suddenly on a Saturday night. “It was usually someone at Children’s Hospital needing something,” he said. “Somebody had my phone number.”
Back in 2012 when he was honored for his 510th donation he said, “Now it’s on to 600!” That day has now come, and his motivation remains stronger than ever. “It kills me to go to Dayton Children’s,” he said. “It’s the thought that a child would need blood and might not be able to get it.”
He’s been a Red Cross disaster response volunteer since 2004. “In March of this year I was in Houston for two and a half weeks for the flooding,” he said. “It was my 25th assignment.”
He comes to Dayton for a wood working group meeting on Thursday mornings, and makes it a habit to schedule his blood donations for the same afternoon. He and his wife Linda have two children and five grandchildren.
A few health issues have impacted his donation schedule recently, but he takes everything in stride – a “let it be” attitude – and gets back on schedule.
“I have been healthy all my life,” he said, knowing the role good health has played in his long history of donations. “Other people have not been as lucky as I have been, they’ve been less fortunate. I can give them a chance.”