“It just helps people, doesn’t it?”

John Glenn donated for nearly 50 years and achieved 1,875 donation credits from donating blood, platelets and plasma.

John holding a donation certificateI first started donating in the early ’70s. I got to 1,875 donation credits last year by giving blood, plasma and platelets over almost 50 years. I was working for the London Underground when someone asked me if I fancied being a blood donor and I said, “go on then”.  

When I lived in Willesden in Northwest London, I used to donate blood 3 or 4 times per year. I then moved to Edgeware, where there’s a permanent donation centre. I was donating one day and a nurse asked me if I would consider donating more often. I asked how often they would want me to come. She said “how about every 2 weeks?” I said, “I can’t do that surely?!” She told me I could donate platelets more often than blood. I switched to giving platelets and I ended up giving both platelets and plasma.  

I donated for over 40 years at Edgeware. Then I started donating at Luton when I couldn’t drive any more.

(Picture: John received certificates 

When you donate platelets, they hook you up on a machine and it takes around 60 minutes to 90 minutes. You get your red cells back because the platelets have been separated and go into a bag. They give you and drink and a snack whilst you are donating.  

If someone is nervous about donating, I’d tell them to try it. If you don’t like the needle, then look away. It’s only like a little scratch going in. 

Donating just helps people, doesn’t it? That’s why you do it, I think that’s why all of us do it.

John at an award ceremonyI was invited to an award ceremony in July last year and they gave me a special certificate for my donations. A few days later, I got a phone call saying I couldn’t donate anymore, due to having an irregular pulse. I was 2 months short of donating for 50 years. Before that, I was donating every two weeks. I wanted to keep going and wish I could still do it now.  

I got to 1,875 credits. Ten credits were whole blood and the rest were platelets and plasma.  

(John attended an award ceremony

Donating just helps people, doesn’t it? That’s why you do it, I think that’s why all of us do it. I loved donating.  

When I was working for the London Underground, I kept saying to my manager why can’t we have a mobile blood donation unit in here? One day my colleague was going to a Health and Safety meeting, so I asked him to bring it up. I knew the meetings were minuted so they had to do something about it. 

After the meeting, my manager called me into his office. He told me to find out what would be needed to bring a mobile blood donation unit to us. I went into the Edgeware donation centre and spoke to them. I asked if we could set something up at Acton Works, which was the main workshop for London Underground train repairs. They were keen but said we’d need at least 60 donors to bring a ‘blood mobile’ in.  

So, I went back and told my manager who said if I could get 60 donors then they would go for it. I was supposed to be working but I spent the whole day going around asking my colleagues if they wanted to give blood. A few of them told me they didn’t like needles. But when I asked them if they would donate if their children needed blood, they said yes. They didn’t even think about it. So I said what if someone else’s child needed it. They changed their minds and were put on the list to give at our event. I managed to get 133 volunteers to sign up. On the day, donations were taken from 113 donors.  

I tried to do my bit and I always wanted to do more.