Vietnam War Veteran Tony Sayger celebrated his 71st birthday on Veterans Day. But the Bellbrook donor has another reason to be proud. He brought along his daughter Crislyn to help celebrate his milestone 100th lifetime blood donation Thursday, Nov. 10 at the Dayton Community Blood Center.
Tony and his wife Judith have been married 51 years and have five children, including two adopted children, and four grandchildren. Crislyn, their youngest, is a special needs child who clearly loved spending a special day with her dad. They shared cookies in the Donor Café and she smiled her approval as Tony tried on his new “Donor for Life – 100 LTD” jacket.
Tony seemed to take it all in stride, but he admitted to a feeling of satisfaction in reaching the milestone. “It was a good goal,” he said. “You don’t even think about it until you get to 90. I knew it was coming, but it was something you never think about.”
A different milestone in Tony’s life comes to mind when he thinks back to the beginning of his “Donor for Life” journey. “I went over to Vietnam in ’66,” he said. “I’d say my first donation was in ’68 or ’69 when I got back to Dayton.”
Tony retired after 34 years with GM then went to work as school bus driver for Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Schools for 13 years. He continues to stay busy working part-time.
His milestone 100th donation was his fifth donation of the year, and that is a typical year of donations for Tony. He often donates at mobile blood drives near his Bellbrook home, supporting the St. Henry Parish, Centerville, Bellbrook Fire Department, Bellbrook Lions Club, and Miami Valley Hospital South blood drives.
It’s not likely Tony will forget when he is eligible to donate. “The do call me quite a bit,” Tony said of the familiar recruiters at CBC.
His donations are truly life-saving gifts because Tony is both a “Universal Donor” and a “Baby Donor.” His blood type is O negative, which any patient in need can receive. He’s also a CMV-negative donor, which means he has not been exposed to the cytomegalovirus. Hospitals prefer to use CMV-negative blood for units designated for children and to ensure the safety of blood transfusions to newborns.
It’s a source of satisfaction to know he has helped many children with his blood donations. But after his 100th he enjoyed a simple celebration with Crislyn. “She’s our baby,” he said.