Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

For Them, Blood Is Thicker Than Water; Men Form Bond over the Years at Frequent Donating Sessions

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

For Them, Blood Is Thicker Than Water; Men Form Bond over the Years at Frequent Donating Sessions

Article excerpt

Byline: DAN SCANLAN

Dean Willis and Frank Frazier are blood brothers.

Every few weeks, these friends come from opposite ends of town to hang out together at the Blood Alliance's headquarters at 7545 Centurion Parkway, making the latest in decades of donations that put both at the top of their class.

Willis just topped off the tanks at 93 gallons, while Frazier just tapped the 84-gallon mark. That makes Willis the top continuous local donor in the alliance's three-state area.

"I think it's great for him. I do wish I could catch him," Frazier joked Wednesday with Willis.

That level of donation is appreciated, Blood Alliance's donor center manager Laurie Ballasso told the men Wednesday.

"This is the one thing we can do for our community that takes nothing but a little bit of our time," she told them. "You guys have done more. ... You have continued to give back to the community. What an awesome thing!"

Willis said he just thinks of those who need blood.

"What keeps me donating is that every time I put that arm out and put that needle in, I know I am the instrument to answer somebody's prayer somewhere," he said.

"It's just a little bit of time," Frazier added modestly.

The 68-year-old Blood Alliance provides blood and blood products to more than 20 hospitals and facilities from Flagler County up to coastal Georgia and Beaufort, S.C. At least 350 pints are needed daily at its 13 donation centers to meet the need. Supplies of AB-negative, O-negative, B-negative and A-negative are very low, according to alliance statistics.

Willis drops in about 7 a.m. to donate, then goes off to his job as director of the public health lab at Shands Jacksonville. The Arlington resident started in 1975, when his father-in-law needed blood for bypass surgery.

"Then I kind of stopped because I didn't know anyone who needed blood," Willis said. …

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