“It’s an easy way to do some good”
Prospect Heights man explains why he’s a consistent plasma donor at age 90
The reason George Blinick began donating blood in 1945 and the reasons why he continues to give the gift of life more than 70 years later could not be more different.
As an 18-year-old taking part in boot camp at the Naval Station Great Lakes, Blinick recalled rolling up his sleeve and giving a pint of blood every two months for a very self-serving reason.
“I started donating when I was in the Navy because if we gave blood we would get 48 hours off full duty,” Blinick said. “I’d use the [off-duty] time to either go to the show or just sleep.”
Now Blinick, who just celebrated his 90th birthday in February, said he donates to “help others.”
“It’s an easy way to do some good and help others in need,” he said. “Plus, the free juice and cookies are a very nice perk!”
Blinick has been a donor with LifeSource since the blood center opened in the late 1980s, and he completed his 190th donation last month. He estimates he has donated another 200 times with other blood companies prior to the opening of LifeSource.
The Prospect Heights resident had been exclusively a whole blood donor up until 2007. It was during his appointment in August of that year that a staff member at the Glenview Donor Center told him that if he donated plasma he would not have to wait eight weeks to give again and instead could donate every 29 days.
“When I was told I could donate once a month and that I’d be able to help even more often I was all for it,” Blinick said of his decision to switch from donating whole blood to plasma.
Blinick’s blood type is AB+, which, along with AB-, just happen to be the universal types and thus his plasma can be received by anyone.
“Just knowing that my donation can be used by anyone makes me feel so good,” he said. “There aren’t a lot of us that are AB [studies show only about 5 percent of the population has an AB blood type] so I consider myself lucky.”
Blinick encouraged anyone who is considering becoming a blood, plasma or platelets donor to make an appointment at their local community donor center and give it a try.
“I think anyone who goes ahead and donates will leave feeling very gratified,” he said. “It’s practically painless and it’s such an easy thing to do to help someone.”
Blinick is no doubt very passionate about donating blood and plasma, but the Chicago native is equally passionate about his music. After retiring 21 years ago after a lengthy career as a pharmacist, Blinick decided to join the Glencoe-based North Shore New Horizons Band. The band is a non-profit organization that provides senior citizens an exciting and educational opportunity to perform music.
“After I retired I was looking for something to do and heard about the band,” Blinick said. “It sounded appealing so I decided to give it a try and I really enjoy it.”
Blinick plays the baritone saxophone in the band, which features around 40 members from a handful of northern municipalities including Winnetka, Wilmette, Evanston, Northbrook and Deerfield. He practices an hour each day on top of the two-hour weekly rehearsals.
“Growing up I was interested in music but then I went into pharmacy, got married, had a family — life happened,” Blinick said. “I’m having a lot of fun with it.”