World-record blood donor has given 301 donations

Tuesday, April 6, 2004

ST. LOUIS -- At a time when blood donations are down, the American Red Cross is especially pleased with a St. Louis man. Maurice Wood, 77, holds a pair of records in the Guinness Book of World Records for giving blood. He's been donating for 54 years, longer than anyone in the world, and has made 301 donations. So far, Wood has given 37 1/2 gallons of blood, one pint at a time.

He comes in under Guinness world-record holder Maurice Creswick of South Africa, who has donated 49 gallons.

Wood, a former federal railroad inspector, began donating in 1950 when he was 24. His blood type is AB positive, which only 3 percent of U.S. residents have. That blood type is unique in that it can be used to transfuse pregnant women or newborn babies.

Wood is inspiring other older donors to give.

Charles "Joe" Kovac Jr., 84, of Concord Village, has donated 15 1/2 gallons of blood since 1962, when he was 42. His goal is to donate 25 gallons of blood by the time he is 100. He earlier sent Wood a fan letter, and the two visit by telephone.

Red Cross spokesman Jim Williams said the agency is grateful.

"We aren't looking for world-record setters; we are just looking for people who want to help save lives," he said.

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