John Sheppard - World's greatest blood donor set blood donation World Record

World's greatest blood donor set blood donation Guinness World Record by John Sheppard

John Sheppard
gave his 315th pint of blood at Lee Memorial Hospital on Thursday, and could make "Guinness World Records" for blood donations.

The record of 231 pints was set in 2009 by Phillip Baird of Australia.

Sheppard, 78, a retired Fort Myers attorney, began donating blood 60 years ago and has given almost 40 gallons.

"This is about encouraging people when they are young to start donating," he said. "You can give your whole life."

Sheppard donated blood for the first time in 1951 because of Gene Prevatt, a Fort Myers High School friend who had been severely wounded during the Korean War.

Sheppard visited Prevatt at the Naval Hospital in Jacksonville and was inspired by his service and devastated by his injuries, which included a shattered leg.

That's when 18-year-old Sheppard committed to giving blood every two months in honor of Prevatt.

He didn't know that he was a world record contender until Nancy Hendrick, community relations coordinator with Lee Memorial Blood Center, did some research.

Hendrick found that Sheppard was way ahead of the current champion and encouraged him to apply.

A group of friends, family and Lee County dignitaries joined Sheppard Thursday to make it official for Guinness.

Sheppard, who has a relatively average A-positive blood type, had donated enough blood in the past six decades to help almost 1,000 people.

It's difficult to identify who those people are, because of extensive testing and procedures, Hendrick said.

"You will never know the identity of the person you are helping, but you will always know that you have improved the quality of their life," Hendrick said.

Sheppard also inspired others to give blood as well.

News-Press columnist Sam Cook wrote about Sheppard's commitment to blood donation in 1999. Sheppard's resolve impressed Cook so much that he made the same commitment. He has donated blood every 56 days since that meeting 12 years ago.

"I wouldn't have started donating if I hadn't met John Sheppard," Cook said. "I'm sure there are many more like me."

Hendrick wishes there were. Lee County blood donations are uncomfortably low, she said.

"Donations fall in the summer, but the need for blood stays the same," she said.

All of the donated blood is used by the hospitals in Lee Memorial Health System.
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