Knoxville man in his nineties has been donating blood since 1958

Local News

In a marine hat an old man sat at the Medic Regional Blood Center.

“I’ve got several from the Navy because my grandson’s in the navy,” Ray Payne said as he finished up his donation.

His hat has the emblem of the Marine Corps on the front. Though he is leaving with less blood, Payne is gaining another hat. He said people often give them to him.

“At this age you just collect too much. You don’t need all that,” he laughed.

He is planning to throw most of them away.

“I’ll keep this one,” he promised.

With the camera rolling he said just the right thing and, yet, you can leave it to a ninety-something to tell it like it is.

“I’m a little over 90,” he said. “You know, somebody could use the blood, obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t be here.”

Not everyone who comes in leaves with a medic hat, so what earned him this newest collectable?

“1958,” he stated.

Time earned him this hat. It has been 63 years of rolling up his sleeve, waiting for the stick, and having a snack before he goes.

“Once I can’t drive it’ll be a problem. A real problem,” he said.

Until then, this Korean War veteran plans to keep donating blood as part of his routine.

“It’s all about the donors. These people take their time. They come out, like him. He’s been giving for years and years and years,” Dr. Tom Watkins, with Medic Regional Blood Center, said. “That warms your heart to know that somebody has come so much and spent so much of their time with us.”

A person can give blood every 56 days. That’s about six times per year. Over a lifetime you’d lose count, which is why a hat for the memory fits just fine.

“How many grandkids do you have?”

“I don’t know!”

That’s all right. At 90-something and with so many lives saved by his blood, what else do you say? Hats off to you, Ray.

There is no age limit to donate blood. Some medications you take may keep you from being able to donate, but your age will not. You can start donating at 16-years-old with parental consent. If you’d like to make an appointment to donate, click here.

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