Syracuse resident marks blood donation goal

Wendy Werner

A Syracuse resident recently attained the goal of donating 25 gallons of blood during a recent Bloodmobile event in Syracuse.

Jerry Werner donated his first unit of blood on July 1, 1970, just a few weeks past his high school graduation and has been consistently donating blood for the past 51 years.  Since 2017, Werner has been donating double red cells where red blood cells are extracted and plasma and platelets are returned to the bloodstream.  Werner’s blood type is O- which is a universal blood type that can be given to other blood types.

Werner initially set a goal to donate 10 gallons.  Once he reached that, he decided to go for 15 and has continued to increase his goal by five gallons after reaching his previous goal.  At 69, Werner has no plans of stopping.  He credits his dad as his inspiration for giving, “My dad gave blood and I thought it was the right thing to do,” Werner said.

Werner has all of his donor cards that show Syracuse, Kearney, Avoca, Elmwood, Murdock, Weeping Water, Plattsmouth, Nebraska City, Talmage and Lincoln as sites where he donated blood.  When Werner first started donating, there were only two blood drives a year though you could donate every eight weeks.  In order to donate at the maximum level of six units per year, Werner had to go to additional sites to donate.  He said when he was traveling for work, he would miss a local bloodmobile but be able to make one in another community. 

Screening and automation are two things Werner said have changed the most since he started donating.  He said when he first started giving, there were few medical questions compared to more questions now.  Automation now allows donors to answer screening questions on a computer or by phone in advance of their appointment compared to filling out a paper questionnaire.

According to the Red Cross, less than 38 percent of the population is eligible to give blood or platelets; 38,000 units of red blood cells are needed daily; and blood and platelets cannot be manufactured, they must come from a blood donor.

Werner said a lot of people can’t give blood and some are not comfortable giving but he encourages those who can to donate.  “You are helping save a life every time you donate,” Werner said.  “It only takes an hour out of your day,” he added.

Jerry Werner of Syracuse has donated 25 gallons of blood over the course of his life dating back to 1970.