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Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016

Benton man donates 300th pint of blood to Red Cross

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Steve Morse of Benton gives his 300th pint of blood.
BENTON -- Steve Morse thinks he has found the secret to good health: giving blood and platelets.

If that's true, then the 66-year-old is set to live a long and healthy life. He gave his 300th unit of blood Tuesday afternoon at the Red Cross Donor Center in Cape Girardeau, in a 91-minute session.

"I think getting rid of all that old stuff out of your body is healthy," Morse said. "I haven't had a cold, headache, indigestion or heartburn in 30 years. I must be doing something right."

Morse donates because he wants to help others. "If I donated 300 times, it's a possibility I either saved or helped save 300 people," he said.

In fact, he said he gets a high from it. "When I leave there, I almost feel like I can walk on water," he said. "It makes me feel good."

Wearing a shirt with "300" and blood drops printed in red, Morse sat comfortably in the chair Tuesday, decorated with two red balloons for the occasion. He follows the same routine every two weeks, minus the special T-

shirt and balloons.

"He's capable of giving 24 times a year and he makes it," said Linda Bollinger, an RN at the Red Cross.

"He's a character," Bollinger said of Morse. "It's never boring when he's here." It's never quiet, either. "They're happy when I leave because their ears are burning while I'm here," Morse laughed.

He is a bit superstitious, too. He covered his shirt with a newspaper Tuesday until the first cycle was complete and he was sure he could give.

"I've been poked so often, I have had problems," he said. Bollinger said that's common, as many platelet donors build up scar tissue.

The past few times he has given, Morse had to be poked in both arms before the blood began pumping correctly. On Tuesday, the first try was successful. "I said a little prayer last night," he said. "It was great."

Morse has worked toward this feat for 38 years. He began giving blood in 1969 when he lived in California.

Then, he gave whole blood. He now only gives platelets, because he can do that twice a month, not just every eight weeks.

"They tell me platelets and plasma are eight-times more important than whole blood," he said.

"There are more recipients waiting for platelets than they have waiting on the shelves lots of time," Bollinger said, adding they are good for just five days.

It takes between one and two hours to give platelets, as opposed to about 15 minutes to give blood. That's because the donor is hooked up to a machine that separates the yellow platelets, then pumps blood back into their body.

According to the Red Cross, platelets are needed to support cancer therapy, open-heart surgery, treatment of blood disorders and organ transplants.

Morse said he has a dream that he could one day meet one person he has helped. He can't, though, because of medical confidentiality.

He has another dream, too -- to give 400 pints. "If I stay healthy and if they can find the veins, within five years, I'll have given 400 pints," he said. "I'm greedy."