100 Gallons Blood Donated: Harold Mendenhall, 84, Donated Blood For 36 Years To Cope With Loss Of Family

By Danny Choy on May 31, 2013 12:45 PM EDT

100 gallons of blood.
100 gallons of blood were donated by 84-year-old Harold Mendenhall of South Florida. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Last month, 84-year-old Harold Mendenhall reached the donation milestone of 100 gallons of blood. Florida blood bank OneBlood celebrated the noble achievement last month.

A staggering quantity, 100 gallons of blood is enough to fill up the gas tanks of eight Honda Civics. In reference to the human body, 100 gallons of blood translates to 80 times the amount of blood, 10 pints, that circulates within an average adult.

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The Huffington Post reports Harold Mendenhall's decision to donate blood was his way of offering spiritual support for his wife when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Mendenhall's first pint was donated on July 7, 1977.

According to the Palm Beach Post, Mendenhall chose 7/7/77 as he believes seven to be his lucky number. As Mendenhall's blood type is O, the rare universal donor, many patients over the years have that lucky number to thank as well. Unfortunately, Mendenhall's wife died after a seven-year battle with the cancer.

In order to cope with the loss, Mendenhall continued to donate blood. Later, Mendenhall lost two of his sons as well, causing his resolve to grow stronger.

"For some reason, I'm still here and I'm grateful. That's one of the reasons I keep donating," said Mendenhall.

Not only is Harold Mendenhall appreciated for the quantity of his donations, but he is valued for the quality of his 100 gallons of blood as well. Harold Mendenhall donates platelets, which are considered the gold standard in blood donation.

Just one pint of whole blood can produce up to eight units of concentrated platelets, which are small blood components that help clotting by sticking to the lining of blood vessels. Blood cancer patients are in need of platelet transfusions the most.

As a platelet donor, Mendenhall donates two pints of blood per visit. 400 donation visits were all it took for Mendenhall to reach the 100 gallons of blood figure.

"On average, one donation can save as many as three lives," reported the Inquisitor. "Which means, in Mendenhall's case he potentially aided 2,400 people. According to the American Red Cross - who supplies approximately 40 percent of the nation's blood stock - every two seconds someone in the US needs blood, requiring at least 44,000 blood donations every day from eligible donors -- healthy individuals who do not use or have a history of intravenous drugs or blood-borne diseases."

Beyond his aid to others, the blood donations allow Mendenhall to keep track of his own health as well.

When Mendenhall returns to OneBlood for a blood donation, OneBlood staff will take a moment to measure his blood pressure and other vital signs. Thirteen other tests indicate whether the blood is tainted with the West Nile virus, HIV or hepatitis. What's more, Mendenhall receives a note with his cholesterol reading.

"It's like getting a check-up every two weeks," said Mendenhall.

"Giving blood can only be done by a human being, so that's been my payback for my career and my good health and all the blessings I've had," said Mendenhall, who lives in a mobile home community in Riviera Beach.

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