For the Weekly Record Herald
TIPP CITY — Tipp City donor Howard Guscar has a personal goal of reaching 300 lifetime blood donations. So far, major milestones of that journey are in step with the annual June 14 celebration of World Blood Donor Day. He reached 150 lifetime donations on World Blood Donor Day 2013, and his milestone 200thcame Wednesday, June 10 at the downtown Dayton Community Blood Center (CBC), just a few days shy of the 2015 celebration.
It’s hard to know the exact number of donations Howard made during his lifetime before moving to Dayton in 1982 and becoming a loyal platelet and plasma donor with CBC He arrived for his regular apheresis appointment wearing the “Donor for Life” wristwatch he received when he reached his 150-donation milestone.
“I remember I said when I reached 150 that I was going to quit when I get 300,” Howard said. “It may take me another year or so, but I think I can make it.”
At age 80 Howard is in good health and happy to be fully retired from his career as a research biologist in the agriculture industry, a job that kept him on the road traveling the Midwest. He wore a bright CBC Parrot Head t-shirt for his milestone 200th donation. “I only wear short-sleeved shirts when I donate,” he said. “I have to watch being in the sun. That goes back to when I was in the service in Viet Nam. You couldn’t get away from it there.”
A better memory is from his college days at Penn State University, where his journey as a blood donor began. “I started in college,” he said. “My fraternity (Tau Phi Delta) started a blood drive when I came there in 1964, and it’s still going. It still has 100 percent participation. That was back when Joe Paterno was still an assistant coach.”
For Howard, being a Donor for Life is always keeping a commitment to blood donations, even as life situations change. He donated on and off during his 10 years in the military. He went to graduate school in Missouri and donated with other blood banks. His donations with CBC have sometimes been interrupted by his commitment to charity work that resulted in travel deferments. “I’ve been on mission trips to Africa,” he said. “That would throw you off donating for a year.”
But he remains confident about reaching 300 lifetime donations because of his routine of making 24 automated donations a year. “I started out donating whole blood,” he said. “I think I got up to 12 gallons and then I went on apheresis.” As a B-positive donor, Howard was encouraged to donate platelets and he didn’t hesitate. “I schedule myself every two weeks.”