Never too old

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 21, 2008

MURFREESBORO – Happy New Year!

The American Red Cross kicked off the first of six blood drives held each year at Metal Tech of Murfreesboro on Jan. 3. Potential donors were welcomed in from the frigid cold by Red Cross volunteers and Metal Tech’s owner Ray Felton.

They welcomed and thanked potential donors for coming to the first blood drive of what is now the eighth year at Metal Tech.

In the past, the American Red Cross had set up their mobile unit at the Roberts-Vaughan Village Center.

“After 9.11, I offered my business’s lobby for blood drive use,” Felton said.

“I appreciate Ann and Robert Howell, Joe Dickerson, Carl Hunsicker and Judy and Wayne Gardner for their dedication as longtime volunteers and thank Earl Telliga with the radio station for advertising our events.”

A successful businessman, a cancer survivor and blood donor, Felton said sponsoring the blood drive as well as being an avid Relay for Life sponsor were some of the ways he contributed to society.

After signing in, a potential donor received a voucher for a free cheeseburger or two hot dogs with French fries and drink at Walter’s Grill, Inc., one of Murfreesboro’s icons located at 317 West Main Street.

Grill owner Billy A. Theodorakis, also a Relay for Life and Salvation Army sponsor, said, “I gladly give this to thank each donor for his gift of life.”

Once a regular blood donor, Dan Bowman, an 81 year old retired Methodist minister and well known for over 25 years of service to the Seaboard, Milwaukee and Gatesville charges in the counties of Northampton and Gates, had quit giving blood.

A year or so ago when asked by a family member to go with him to donate, Bowman said, “I’m too old, ugly and taking too much medicine to give blood.”

The son told his dad to let Red Cross officials make the decision on the age and personal medication issues.

Never too old, Bowman, known as Papa Dan by family and friends, is ready to donate another pint of life.

Much to Bowman’s delight, some of the old, painful practices of drawing blood have been replaced by modern, pain-free methods. Today there is an automatic lancet, used by diabetics, which is a nearly painless way to prick the finger. The American Red Cross trains their phlebitis staff to all use the same procedure to professionally draw blood.

The technician locates the donor’s vein using a blood pressure cuff and the donor squeezes and releases a rubber ball to pump up a vein.

The pumped up vein is zeroed with a visible “X marks the spot” on the skin made with a biologically safe marking device.

The needle is inserted at the X’s intersection with a slow steady motion with pinpoint accuracy to the vein resulting in minimal pain.

Eight American Red Cross staff members – Sidney Scales, Sherry Bynum, Tammy Pittman, Ellyse Davis, Shakita Clemmons, Bianca Outerbridge, Nikia Johnson and Chaka Clark – make the blood donation process practically painless.

Scales, also the designated CD jockey, played the upbeat sounds of Baby Face and modern Gospel which calmed the savage beast.

He also demonstrated various dance routines and steps.

After donating blood comes time for refreshments. Cookies, fudge, banana nut bread and other homemade surprises, all from Judy Felton (the wife of Ray Felton), in addition to the standard fare of soft drinks, Famous Amos cookies and pretzels are looked forward to by everyone.

Judy Felton’s surprises are a labor of love.

Bowman said he enjoyed socializing and it was impossible to resist the goodies prepared by Mrs. Felton.

Afterwards, even though Bowman said his capacity has been “sarensafied” (in layman‘s terms means he was full), the family set their course to Walter‘s Grill. There, Theodorakis stopped his busy chores and took some time to spend with the family. He proudly showed the family framed certificates of appreciation from American Red Cross, Relay for Life and Salvation Army.

Theodorakis thanked the family for donating blood and then received thanks for the treat.

Earlier, Ray Felton and others worked on a memory aide for Metal Tech’s yearly blood donation schedule.

It’s always the odd months of the year – January, March, May, July, September, November – and the first Thursday of those months from 12 noon until 6 p.m.

Like Rev. Bowman, you’re never too old.

Put the next blood drive, scheduled for March 6, on your calendar.