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Red Cross honors top blood donors

August 30, 1999|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Caleb F. Burns Jr. remembers when giving blood was simple.

When he first tried to donate blood 35 years ago, his biggest problem was age. He was 17, but was not allowed to give blood until he was 18.

How times have changed.

Now before giving blood, Burns and other blood donors have to fill out a 50-question form which asks them about everything from their sex life to whether they have had a tattoo.

The questionnaire asks donors if they have taken money or drugs in exchange for sex, snorted cocaine or had sex with anyone from Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and an assortment of other countries.

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"I kind of makes your face blush after a while," said Burns.

Despite the sometimes embarrassing requirements, Burns continues to give.

And give big.

Burns was among 25 top Jefferson County donors honored at the Lions Center in Ranson, W.Va., on Monday.

Burns has donated 20 gallons of blood to the American Red Cross over the years, making him the third largest blood donor in the county.

The top donor is Randolph M. Anders, who has donated 22 gallons, and the second highest is Conrad C. Hammann, who has given more than 21 gallons.

There are a variety of reasons people give blood regularly, said Tina Stover, spokeswoman for the Greater Alleghenies Blood Service Region.

Some people become regular donors after they see a family member or friend saved by receiving blood after an accident, cancer or surgery, said Stover.

For donors like Burns and Anders, it's pure community service.

"I know it's corny, but doggone it, it makes you feel good. It's a way to help your fellow man," Burns said after donating his 161st pint Monday.

"It's what little I can do to help somebody," said Anders.

And maybe there's a little competition at work too.

Anders said he and Hammann, both former employees of Halltown Paperboard Co., have always tried to see who could give the most blood.

"He's always tried to catch me, but I've stayed ahead of him," said Anders.

The region's blood supply was good, but now it is falling, said Stover. Red Cross officials believe they may be able to get more donors by taking bloodmobiles to area businesses, said Stover.

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