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9 Who Care: Wayne Brown donates 35 gallons of blood

Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 6:01 AM CST
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - Every other Monday, Wayne Brown, of Dubuque, sits down in a chair, sticks out his arm, and makes a life-saving blood donation. It’s been part of his routine for nearly 50 years.

It all started when he came back from serving in the Air Force.

“I remember I heard on the radio they were low on ‘O positive’ - the universal, which I am,” Wayne, 68, said. “So, I went to the Red Cross and donated, and it went well, and I just kept doing it.”

When the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center opened in Dubuque, it was closer to his home, he decided to donate there, instead.

“I started with whole blood here. You do whole blood every 8 weeks, then I went to double reds, but you only go every 16 weeks then,” he said.

Then, he started donating platelets.

“Doing this, I always do double donations, so I could help up to 48 people a year doing that.”

In October 2020, he hit a major milestone: 35 gallons of blood donated to the Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center. That’s nearly 300 donations. But he never knew how far his donations would go, that is until one day many years ago.

“I came into do a donation, and they said my bags were going to be tagged,” Wayne said. “So they wound up sending them to Cardinal Glennon Hospital in St. Louis, a hospital for sick children.”

He later learned his donation saved a child’s life. It’s consistent donations like Wayne’s that help keep the blood center serving more than 115 hospitals.

“Over time, that’s 26 visits a year and then two units in the course of the donation,” said blood center spokesperson Kirby Winn. “It takes that kind of strong and steady support from the full community of donors, and so it’s important to have those regular reschedules.”

Donations hit close to home for Wayne, but it’s his own children that motivated him.

“All three of our children were premature and our second child, who was five weeks early, needed a couple of blood transfusions shortly after birth,” he said. “Additionally, my wife needed blood transfusions after her hysterectomy. You never know when it’s going to be you or someone from your family who needs blood.”

But Wayne’s service goes far beyond giving blood, according to his wife, Michelle. Michelle nominated Wayne for TV9′s 9 Who Care program.

“He’s almost 69-years-old,” she said. “The energy he has is unbelievable, it’s boundless.”

Originally from Peosta, Iowa, Wayne enlisted in the U.S. Air Force immediately after high school graduation. He served for 18 months in a combat zone between Thailand and Vietnam. Toward the end of the war, Wayne was honorably discharged and was immediately hired at the Dubuque Packing Company.

Later, he would take a job with Alliant Energy. In 2017, he retired, which he said was just way too overrated. So, he took on a job at Finley Hospital, working as a Lab Courier.

“My retirement lasted 11 hours, 42 minutes and 15 seconds,” Wayne said. “But it didn’t really work for me, so I went back to work.”

He said the younger people give him lots of energy, and he appreciates the exercise.

And he still finds time to volunteer as the Post Commander at his local VFW post.

“This last year, we installed four flag boxes in our community where people can place torn and faded U.S. flags,” he said. “I then take them to a funeral home to be properly disposed of. We have a good post, and it’s an honor to be a part of it.”

By the way, he also plays the demanding role of grandad to seven grandkids. This year, six of them are playing sports, so if nothing keeps him busy, they certainly will!

“I can’t be in six places, so I try to get to the games between us and help out however I can if they need a coach for a game or practice,” he said. “How many chances do grandpa’s get to do that?”

For Wayne, whether it’s donating blood, spending time on the field, or serving his local community, nothing will slow down his desire to give back.

“Keeps me outta trouble for the most part,” he said.

“He still finds ways to get in trouble,” Michelle said.

“I knew that was coming,” he replied.

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