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80-Year-Old Vet Donates Blood for the 77th Time

Joseph Mammana, 80, continued a 38-year-old tradition of giving blood Wednesday at the Harrison Veterans Building.

Holding a small pamphlet with scribbled notes of dates and locations, Joseph Mammana showed in each of the astonishing 77 times he has donated a pint of blood over the last 38 years.

"I ran out of cards," he said with a laugh, flicking through decade after decade of afternoons spent at blood drives throughout Westchester County, most recently Wednesday at the Harrison Veteran's Building.

Since making his first donation as a favor to a friend in the summer of 1974, Mammana, 80, has gone to blood drives and hospitals every couple of months to make his donation. Over that time he has given nearly 10 gallons of blood and helped as many as 231 people needing a transfusion. 

A retired United States Marine, Mammana said he started donating because he was told a long time ago that giving a pint of blood and rejuvenating it in your body not only helps someone else, but it's healthy. 

Thirty-eight years later, he's never looked back. 

During that time Mammana has been interviewed by more than a few people who have come across his story over the years. Last summer his face was displayed on the JumboTron at Citi Field during a Mets game as the organization recognized his years of blood donations and military service.

But Mammana, a New Rochelle resident, said he never really sought the attention. The good feeling when he gets home from a blood drive is reward enough for him, he said. And as the years of his life have added up, he's also been thinking about his own life.

"If you believe in the pearly gates, when you get to the gate I think there's a book there with two sides. One side has all the plusses, the other all the negatives," he said. "Those two better add up by the time you get there."

Despite his age, Mammana has no intention of slowing down or stopping his blood donations because he's never had any health problems. He said his continued health is no accident, crediting visits to the gym five days a week at 5 a.m. where he runs on a treadmill for 35 minutes. 

"I'll do it as long as I'm healthy," he said.

Over the years blood drives have become an important part of Mammana's life. He keeps in touch with the American Red Cross, and knows organizers who tell him when there's a blood drive in the area. In Harrison Wednesday he was the life of the event, greeting strangers with a smile, story and a comfortable conversation.

"I'm a triple threat—I can't sing, I can't dance and I can't act," he joked. "But I can sure as hell give blood."

For the those lucky enough to meet him, he does a lot more than that.

TTH April 19, 2012 at 01:12 PM
What a great story! Thank God there are people like this still around.He is truly a insperation to others.

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