DAYTON — Lewisburg donor Tom Apple remembers celebrating his milestone “10th gallon” donation back in 2009 with a cake at Community Blood Center and a commemorative “naughty nurse” tattoo on his forearm. The tattoo nurse showed no sign of aging when Tom returned to the Dayton CBC Monday, Feb. 22 for his milestone 15th gallon, only this time Tom supplied the cake.
Apple reached “15 gallons” by giving platelets for his 120th lifetime blood donation. He had recently retired when he made his 100th donation in 2012. He said at the time, “In my mind I still think of my 10 gallon donation as the big one. I guess the next big one will be 15 gallons. It will take me a little while to get to 15 gallons.”
It took about four years to get to 15 gallons, but Apple made it. He brought with him a giant sheet cake with “CBC 15 Gallons” and a blood drop in red icing to share with CBC staff members in the Donor Café.
Apple said the celebration of this milestone was a time say thank you. “I started looking at it like this,” he said. “It’s been three cookies each time, so you could say 30 dozen cookies over the years, and all the dozens of t-shirts, cups, and all kinds of stuff. Everybody does all the work — not me. I just lie here.”
Apple started donating at CBC mobile blood drives while working as a loan officer at Winters Bank. The Winters Tower was the tallest building in the Dayton skyline and became the Kettering Tower when Winters Bank merged with Bank One. Apple eventually retired from Chase Bank.
He grew up in Union and has spent most of his life in Lewisburg. He and his wife Pam have been married 46 years and have a son and a grandson. Donating is one of the ways he stays busy. “I live in the county so I have a lot of grass to mow and chores to do,” he said.
His recent donations have been platelets and plasma, but he continues to donate whole blood and double red blood cells. “It’s something to give back to the community,” he said.
He’s also decided it’s time to update his commemorative tattoo. The nurse is modeled after the aircraft “nose art” popularized in the 1940’s that feature pinup girl designs on World War II bombers. Borrowing again from the era, he wants to add small tattoos of the old glass bottles once used for blood collection and transfusions, with each bottle symbolizing five gallons of donations.
That means commemorating his 15th gallon milestone with three bottle tattoos. As he has said before, “It may take me a little while” but he’ll be working on another bottle tattoo for his 20th gallon. When he makes it, you can bet there will be cake!
Learn more at www.GivingBlood.org.