Man donates his 10th gallon of blood

Every eight weeks without fail, one 77-year old donates blood. He glanced down at his donor card one early October morning and saw it was time, yet again, to donate. Robert Baily keeps a diligent schedule donating blood, but this time, his donation would be one to celebrate.

He called the Scott & White Blood Center and asked if Bettye Baker was working, a phlebotomist he knew well. For years, Bettye was the only one that could find Robert’s difficult veins and the two formed a friendship. He called the center and said, “I’m coming in today, and Bettye may want to take this one. It’s going to be my 10th gallon.”

Robert from Belton, TX had regularly donated a pint of blood since 1982, and his celebration of 10-gallons would require more than 80 donations. During his regular visits, Robert would like to socialize and get to know the new phlebotomists, but Bettye and Robert always shared a special bond. That’s because not only did Bettye help Robert donate his 10th gallon of blood, she was there for his first donation.

“Robert is a very dedicated man for giving blood,” said Bettye. “He’s always willing to help someone out.”

The two’s relationship evolved for more than 30 years, and it started because Robert’s son was in a horrible motorcycle accident.

“There are a handful of donors who are able to give 10 gallons, but Robert has been the most consistent,” said Bettye. “He’s been coming every eight weeks since I can remember.”

Days after his son’s accident, Robert stopped by a mobile blood donation center near a car dealership after work. It was Valentine’s Day, and he felt like it was a small way he could give back during this hard time for his son, who required more than 40 units of blood. He brought his step-grandson along, and Bettye got Robert started on the first of many donations.

Since that day, Robert has been giving blood regularly. A selfless act that doesn’t take longer than 30 or 40 minutes to do.

“Explore."

“There are a handful of donors who are able to give 10 gallons, but Robert has been the most consistent,” said Bettye. “He’s been coming every eight weeks since I can remember.”

Robert did not want a big fuss over his 10-gallon accomplishment, but simply requested a picture for his posterity. He tries to set an example for his four children (three living), eight grandchildren, four step-grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

He says they all refer to him as Pa or Papa, and they keep him going and keep him busy. Robert wants to set an example for them, and give back in any way that he can.

“The reason I kept on giving is because I just want it to be there if somebody needs it,” said Robert. “You just never know. It makes me feel good, and I think that’s what keeps me healthy.”

Robert says his early years were difficult as a child, with his dad killed when Robert was only 11-years old. Robert stepped up to help support the family. He took on a paper route with the Temple Daily Telegram when he was 12, and held the demanding job until he was a senior in high school, graduating from Belton High in 1956. To this day, the first thing he does is pick up his paper and reads the latest news in his community.

“The reason I kept on giving is because I just want it to be there if somebody needs it,” said Robert. “You just never know. It makes me feel good, and I think that’s what keeps me healthy.”

He says he hopes when others read about his story, it may encourage others to donate regularly or give back to the community.

“I thought about quitting now that I reached my 10-gallon goal,” said Robert. “But now I’m shooting for 100 donations.”

Bettye laughed and apologized to Robert that she won’t be there for the 100th donation since she plans to retire shortly.

“Robert told me, he doesn’t have much money, he doesn’t have much time, but he has plenty of blood to give,” said Bettye. “He’s just a wonderful gentleman.”

Robert will continue to not only give blood but to give back to his community. Robert has sponsored blood drives and volunteers at Elk’s Lodge charity organization. He helps out every year with their annual egg hunt for children with special needs and hopes to spread the word about blood donation.

When asked about volunteering with these young children, Robert said, “If it don’t bring tears to your eyes to watch how happy it makes them, then you’re not very human.”

Robert is indeed in touch with his human side, donating more than 80 times to hit this tremendous accomplishment and help countless individuals desperately needing blood.

Find out more about blood donation.

About the author

Jill Taylor
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I contribute content and skills as a freelance writer for Baylor Scott & White Health. I enjoy improving our connection with our readers, patients and communities by assisting with a wide range of writing projects.

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Man donates his 10th gallon of blood