Pat Sarazyn has donated 18 gallons of blood in his life, which amounts to 144 sittings.

Sarazyn attains 18-gallon mark in blood donations

Says motto is 'Better to give than to receive'

If you took all the blood Pat Sarazyn has donated over his lifetime, it would fill an average kitchen sink, which holds 15 to 20 gallons depending on its size.
Sarazyn donated blood for the first time in 1973 when he was 19 years. He now has in his possession a pin given to him by the American Red Cross for donating 18 gallons.
The pin is affixed to card stock that reads in part: "Congratulations, Patrick! It's our honor to award you this milestone pin. Your 144 lifetime donations have made a true difference in the lives of others."
When asked what makes him continue to give blood for so many years, Sarazyn replied: "My motto is that it's better to give than to receive. It's not something that's hard to do and it only takes about an hour and a half. I sure can give that much time to help someone."
Ever since the pandemic hit two years ago, blood has been in high demand. A local Red Cross Blood Drive is being held today in the high school gymnasium in Minneota.
Sarazyn will not be able to give blood at the high school after donating at a blood drive in Ghent recently. A donor has to wait 56 days to give a single pint of whole blood and can give up to six times a year. A Power Red, or double donation, can be given every 112 days up to three times a year. Sarazyn has been giving Power Red donations in recent years.
Sarazyn has now begun his path toward 19 gallons. He would be well over 25 gallons by now had he not stopped donating for approximately 10 years due to a busy schedule after starting his own business in Marshall in the 1990s. He started donating again a few years ago.
During a routine test, Red Cross workers discovered that Sarazyn's blood was found to be free of Cytomegalovirus (CMV), indicating that he is a candidate to donate blood for premature babies.
The American Red Cross ships CMV negative blood products around the country each day to tiny patients in need. It is estimated that by the age of 40, 85 percent of the population has been exposed to CMV, which is a flu-like virus. As with other viruses, once someone has had CMV their body retains the antibodies.
Being CMV negative is vital when donating blood. Only a small percentage of the population can meet this specific medical need. CMV is generally harmless to adults but can be fatal to babies. For this reason, babies needing transfusions as part of their medical care should only receive blood from donors who are CMV negative.
"I'm going to give blood as long as I can, especially knowing it will help babies," he said. "If I knew donating blood could give a child another day of life, I would do it in a heartbeat."
Sarazyn has "O Negative" blood, which is the universal blood type that can be transfused to anyone, regardless of their blood type. Hospitals need to have this type of blood on hand for emergencies.
Just out of high school, Sarazyn was working for William W. "Doc" Merritt, one of two veterinarians in Minneota at that time.
"Doc Merritt always gave his time to help others," Sarazyn said. "He was a great supporter of Minneota. I guess that must be what influenced me to start giving blood."
Donating blood hasn't changed a great deal over the years Sarazyn has been giving, except for the snacks provided to the donors.
"They used to give sandwiches and homemade cookies and treats," he said with a laugh. "Now it's all pre-packaged stuff."
Sarazyn has donated in several communities, depending on which station fits his time the best. These include Minneota, Ghent, Canby, Marshall and Cottonwood.
"It's well worth it," said Sarazyn. "I would tell someone thinking about donating to 'Go for it.'"
After Thursday's blood drive at the high school, the next Red Cross blood drive will be held from 1-7 p.m. on June 22 at the American Legion.

The 18-gallon pin Sarazyn received from the Red Cross.

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