- Associated Press - Saturday, July 2, 2016

ROCKFORD, Ill. (AP) - Delbert Tedrick was a Marine stationed in North Carolina in 1951 the first time he donated a pint of his O-positive blood.

“They gave me a shot of whiskey afterward,” said the 85-year-old Winnebago resident with a laugh. “The Marines had a lot of casualties (during the Korean War), so that’s what we were giving blood for.”

Tedrick served in Korea during the conflict and was placed on a 10-year restriction list from donating blood when he returned to the states. When he was cleared in 1965, he knew it was time to head back to the blood bank.

Tedrick’s 18-gallon lifetime blood donation serves as an example for younger donors in his family, and it’s a precedent that the Rock River Valley Blood Center considers invaluable, said Jen Bowman, the agency’s marketing manager. Tedrick volunteered as a driver at the local blood bank for 12 years, transporting blood to area hospitals. He also served as a “walk-in” donor who was called in to give in case of emergencies.

The veteran has never had a bad experience donating, and he’s not afraid of needles. He said he gives for two reasons: the need for blood and, while not whiskey, the chocolate chip cookies he gets afterward.

He encouraged family members to start giving blood at a young age and as often as possible, saying that it’s a “feel-good feeling” to know he’s helped someone - or possibly saved a life.

Tedrick’s son, Robin, 58, who started donating when he was 29, prefers Nutter Butters as his celebratory snack. He hit the 5-gallon milestone when he donated blood today at the Rock River Valley Blood Center with his dad and his son, Trenton Tedrick, 26, who gave for the second time. Robin and Trenton Tedrick both have A-negative blood, the fourth-rarest of the eight types. Only 6 percent of the population has it, according to the Rock River Valley Blood Center website. The most common type is O-positive at 38 percent.

“I was told that they were in dire need of (my and Trenton’s) blood type,” Robin Tedrick said. “I guess because it’s in high demand, that’s why I give, and becausI give, and because of my dad. … I don’t know if I’ll ever catch my dad, but maybe I will.”

Bowman said she’s impressed by the Tedricks’ commitment to supporting the community blood supply, as well as the example Delbert and Robin have set for Trenton.

“We depend on older donors, but it is imperative that we recruit new, younger donors,” Bowman said. “There’s nothing more convincing than watching two men that you admire saving lives. The fact that they’ve made donation a part of their family’s personal mission is amazing. We are very grateful for that dedication.”

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Source: Rockford Register Star, https://bit.ly/1UtD09G

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Information from: Rockford Register Star, https://www.rrstar.com

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