The Rutherford Report: Fontana Blood Donor Hits 100-Gallon Milestone

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“Wherever a man turns he can find someone who needs him.”

—Albert Schweitzer
Blood Donor Hits 100-Gallon Milestone

James Gursslin joined an exclusive club this month.

The 71-year-old Fontana resident became one of only 11 other donors in LifeStream’s 65-year history to donate a total of 100 gallons of blood and blood components.

“I just do it to help people, regardless of who’s on the receiving end of the donation,” he said. “I think it’s a good choice to make.”

James isn’t sure what exactly led him to make his first blood donation in the late 1960s other than his desire to help others, but later on, it became personal when his father developed bone cancer and regularly needed transfusions.

After his father passed away in 1980, James continued donating blood, and when he learned his blood was “baby friendly,” he had yet another reason to take the time to donate.

About 40 percent of the population has so-called “baby friendly” blood because they have not been exposed to the cytomegalovirus (CMV), which causes mild flu-like symptoms. The virus can persist in a person’s white cells and can be transmitted through blood transfusions.

It rarely causes problems for blood transfusion recipients, but it can have severe or even fatal consequences for low birth weight babies and infants, which is why hospitals prefer to use CMV-negative blood in their pediatric units.

James donated whole blood until he reached the 12-gallon mark about 20 years ago. Then he discovered he could donate more often through a procedure called apheresis, which isolates one or more blood components such as plasma and platelets for collection.

A healthy person can donate whole blood every eight weeks while plasma can be donated once a month and platelets can be donated every two weeks.

James said time is probably what keeps most people from donating. On average, it takes about an hour to complete a whole blood donation, including the initial screening, paperwork and recovery time. Donating plasma and platelets takes longer.

James, who is retired from the Fontana Unified School District where he worked in the maintenance department, said the time factor doesn’t bother him. He usually shows up early so he has time to chat with friendly staff at the LifeStream office in San Bernardino.

He doesn’t plan to slow down his donations now that he’s hit the 100-gallon milestone.

“I’ll keep giving until they tell me I can’t donate anymore,” he said.

LifeStream is a private, non-profit that provides blood to more than 80 medical facilities in Southern California. It was established by the medical societies of San Bernardino and Riverside counties. The blood center needs about 500 donations a day to ensure local hospitals have safe, ample supplies of blood. Visit to learn more.
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