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November 23, 2017

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Rhinelander resident John Spencer, 96, who has been donating blood since he was 17, recently hit the 40-gallon mark.
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Rhinelander resident John Spencer, 96, who has been donating blood since he was 17, recently hit the 40-gallon mark.
11/10/2017 7:28:00 AM
96-year-old Rhinelander man donates 40th gallon of blood

Kayla Breese
Feature Writer

To call John Spencer a generous man would be an understatement, as he has spent nearly eight decades regularly giving his blood to help others.

Spencer, 96, has been donating blood through the American Red Cross since he was 17 years old and last month reached the 40th gallon milestone.

In an interview with River News, Spencer said he started donating blood after a friend of his was shot in the hip and needed a blood transfusion.

"I'm willing to do it," he said.

On another occasion he went to see a friend of his father's and was told by the gentleman's wife that the man needed a transfusion. Once Spencer heard the news he promptly headed to the hospital to donate.

"I was just willing to help somebody out," he explained.

Since then, Spencer said he has been donating blood roughly four times a year.

"In many cases, people often thank me for doing it," he said.

The process of donating blood has changed a bit over the years, Spencer noted.

"The very first time I was a junior in high school where they were taking donations, and other times they would give you a shot of brandy or a shot of bourbon or something like that - not that you needed it - but as a 'thank you' for doing it," he said.

Laura McGuire, external communications manager at the American Red Cross, is thankful for the life-saving donations made by Spencer and others.

"We are very appreciative and proud of all our donors young and old who help to save lives," she said. "There is no upper age limit for giving blood as long as you are well and have no limitations on activities. The need for blood is constant. All blood types are needed. Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood."

McGuire would also like to recognize all the volunteers who have help put on the blood drives.

"We would also like to recognize the local Red Cross volunteers who make the blood drives

possible," she said. "It's a team effort when donors and volunteers roll up a sleeve in helping to save lives."

The next Red Cross Community Blood Drive is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Jan. 31 at the AmericInn in Rhinelander.

"Eligible donors can feel good knowing that by donating through the Red Cross they may be helping patients not only in their community, but also family and friends across the nation," McGuire said.

Kayla Breese may be reached at

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