Grayling Man Completes 36th Blood Gallon Donation

“I started donating when I was 17 years old because I had some problems,” Grayling Resident Al Etson said. “I thought my eyes were bad when I was in high school.”

Al Etson’s regular blood donations started because of what he thought was an eye problem. His parents bought him glasses, but they didn’t help.

“So I went to a doctor and they took a blood test,” Etson said. “And the reason I donate is because my iron in my blood, I had too much iron in my blood. And that was giving me like headaches and stuff like that make me think my eyes aren’t right.”

He learned he has blood type O Negative. This blood type can donate to anyone, but can only receive like blood.

Red Cross Volunteer Teena Kehr said, “There’s only seven percent of the population that have O Negative blood and the O Negative can be given to any blood type.”

In her 10 years volunteering for Red Cross, she hasn’t seen anyone donate that much blood.

“This is a three gallon container and he’s donated twelve of these in his 56 years,” Kehr said. “Quite an accomplishment. We’re just very proud of Mr. Al.”

Etson has been donating every 56 days for 56 years. That’s as often as Red Cross regulations allow a person to donate.

He’s even given blood outside regular blood drives.

“I’ve been called on accidents. You know, after an accident called to the hospital and do it,” he said. ”You know to donate because they needed it. You know thankfully it was my time to do it, and I would go and do that.”

He plans to donate as long as his health allows.

“As long as God lets me do it, I’ll do it as long as I can donate.”