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A 100-GALLON REASON TO PARTY

Frank Aumack donated his first pint of blood more than 50 years ago.

He was 19 at the time, and the people collecting the blood gave him a shot of whiskey when he was finished.

"So then, I started going back every day," Aumack said, laughing.

Today, Aumack has donated more than 100 gallons of whole blood and blood components, such as platelets and plasma. The employees at Florida Blood Services recently threw the 69-year-old Largo resident a party to celebrate his accomplishment.

J.B. Gaskins, a spokesman for Florida Blood Services, said Aumack is one of about six donors in the region who have reached the 100-gallon mark. Aumack, a retired letter carrier, typically donates some form of blood every two weeks at the Largo branch of Florida Blood Services. His donations have helped more than 2,400 patients.

So why did you start donating blood so frequently?

I like the T-shirts. No, I really don't know. I just got started and kept going. I sure enjoy the people at the blood bank. And I'm sure I'm helping people - that's important.

It takes more than an hour and a half to undergo apheresis, the process where they draw a particular component of your blood and return the rest to your system. What do you do while you're waiting?

They have great movies. You have your own TV set with your own headset. Of course, I've seen most of the movies now. It's getting harder and harder to choose.

Did you know the people from Florida Blood Services were planning a party to celebrate your 100th gallon?

They kept trying to give me a party, first when I reached 50 gallons and then 75. I always said no. So they surprised me. Now I want a party every time.

What would you tell people who are hesitant to give blood?

There's no pain. It's easy. I enjoy it. And I've met a lot of great people.

So now that you've reached 100 gallons, what's your next goal?

It's certainly not 200. I'm just going to keep doing it. I have to stay in front of the people who are behind me.

Carrie Weimar can be reached at cweimar@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4151.

HOW TO HELP

Urgent need

Florida Blood Service has a critical shortage of O negative, A negative and B negative red blood cells, as well as AB plasma and A and B positive platelets. If you'd like to donate, please contact 1-800-68-BLOOD.

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