Local 82-year-old to donate 200th pint of blood on Friday

William Harris will donate his 200th pint of blood on April 17 at the Red Cross on Coliseum Drive.

Local 82-year-old to donate 200th pint of blood on Friday
April 16
12:33 2020

By Judie Holcomb-Pack

“I hate needles.”

That was the surprising answer when I asked William Harris what it was like to donate blood for over 60 years. “I hate needles with a passion and still haven’t gotten used to it,” he continued. “I just turn my head. The worst part is when the needle goes in. Then you just lay there.”

But for over 60 years, Harris has been donating blood to the Red Cross and on April 17 at 1 p.m., he is scheduled to donate his 200th pint, quite a milestone for someone who is 82 years old and, as he says, “hates needles.” Harris related how he first started donating blood; again, the answer was a surprise.

“I worked at Reynolds Whitaker Park and they told us we would get paid to be off work for an hour to donate blood,” Harris related. “Back then, you would do anything to get out of work,” he said with a laugh. 

Harris talked about why he has continued donating blood for 60 years. There were years he didn’t donate as frequently, he admitted. “After time went by, I saw the need to help people. I was in good physical shape and was only turned down one time because my iron was low. I took iron pills for three days, went back and they took me.”

Another time he visited his deacon at church who was in the hospital. He saw him hooked up to IVs and was receiving blood and that convinced him to continue donating. In 2016 his wife had double pneumonia and had to have a transfusion and that kept him determined, as he said, “to keep on keeping on.” He also thinks about his three sisters, who have also had to have blood transfusions.

“God’s given me a mission, I’m on a crusade to help somebody.” That keeps him determined to donate as often as he can, which is about every eight weeks.

Casey Epperson, collection supervisor at the Red Cross, has worked with Harris for 13 years. “He’s very faithful and comes in every eight weeks,” she said. “He puts a smile on everyone’s face. It’s always special when he comes in.”

According to the American Red Cross, thousands of blood drives have been cancelled over the past two months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Blood donation centers, such as the one on Coliseum Drive, are following the directions of the Centers for Disease Control to protect the health and safety of donors by sanitizing all equipment regularly, doing a pre-temperature check, allowing a limited number of people in the drive area, and practicing social distancing. All staff and donors wear masks during donations. 

Harris is looking forward to donating his 200th pint of blood on Friday and is encouraging all his friends and family – and our readers – to consider volunteering to donate blood, too. Anyone who is age 16 or older and is healthy can donate blood. To schedule an appointment, visit or call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767). 

He’s also looking forward to the cake he’s been promised by the workers at the Red Cross to celebrate this milestone.

Still, he’s not looking forward to that needle.

“I don’t do it because it feels good,” he said with a laugh. 

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