We often hear blood drives called "giving the gift of life." If that's true, one of the most generous people lives in McIntosh County. Billy Lawless reached a pretty big milestone today for the American Red Cross.
Few people have given of themselves--literally--like Lawless, who donated his 300th unit of blood at a drive Tuesday in Eulonia.
"I gave my first pint when I was 15, me and a friend," he said. "Back then, they gave $5 a pint. A lot of things have changed."
To reach this point, Lawless has donated six, sometimes seven, times a year for nearly 50 years. That's compared to most people who never give in their lifetimes.
"In Georgia, only three percent give blood even once, let alone once a year or more," said the Red Cross' Tina Hardy. "So this is really incredible."
Lawless' milestone comes as the local Red Cross's blood supply nears the critical "appeal" level, where nonemergency surgeries are postponed.
Lawless doesn't consider whether his blood has saved lives, but he hopes others will give. "I don't have a lot of money I can donate to different causes, but I can do this," he said.
Those in the Red Cross don't expect everyone to match Lawless' level of giving. They just hope people realize how much every pint counts.
Lawless has lived all over the eastern United States, but the Red Cross has tracked his donations all the while. He says he's the big recipient, because of the health screening he gets every eight weeks or so when he donates.
Three hundred pints is 37 and a half gallons over a lifetime so far, and Lawless didn't say anything about quitting anytime soon.