It was clear that “the force is strong with this one” when Miamisburg donor Clifford “Cliff” Caldwell settled into the donor bed and cracked open “Star Wars Catalyst – A Rogue One Novel” to read while making his milestone 200th lifetime blood donation.
Cliff is a ’91 graduate of Miamisburg High School, where he was Star Wars fan long before he became a “Donor for Life.”
“I started donating in high school and I just kept it up,” said Cliff. “My mom was a nurse and she always encouraged me to give blood. She understood how important it is to give blood. She can’t give anymore so I keep giving for her.”
He went to Cedarville University where he remembers once donating whole blood for a student injured in a car accident. He’s been donating platelets and plasma since 2010.
“I knew that with apheresis you could give more often, so that’s what I did,” he said. He reached his 100th donation milestone as an apheresis donor and was closing in on his 200th last year. He made 14 apheresis donations in 2016, but hit a snag toward the end of the year.
After three consecutive unsuccessful apheresis donations he tried giving whole blood. He credits phlebotomist Chloe Lehwald for finding just the right touch on that donation, and it was Chloe who helped Cliff reach his 200th donation milestone with a plasma donation.
“I didn’t know if I’d make it after I had so many no-draws in a row,” he said. “But Chloe was brave enough to try it!”
Cliff started donating in high school, but his interest in the Star Wars saga goes back to middle school.
“I saw ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ in middle school,” he said. “For some reason they showed it to us for free in our auditorium.”
As Cliff talked about the “Catalyst” novel he is reading and his expectation for the movies still to come in the Star Wars saga, it occurred to him that he had made the wrong choice of t-shirt to wear for his 200th donation.
“I should have worn the ‘Rogue Blood Donor’ t-shirt,” he said, remembering the CBC t-shirt from December 2016 that celebrated the release of the “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” Ironically it was in December that he was having trouble donating, but he didn’t give up.
“That’s my favorite t-shirt I have,” he said. May the force continue to be with you Cliff!