LEWISTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Joe Maher of Turner has always been driven to help people.
Raising a large family, he never had much money to donate. Instead, he decided to give blood. He started doing that more than 40 years ago and has now surpassed a remarkable milestone.
Maher arrived at the blood donor center at Central Maine Medical Center on Wednesday for what’s become a regularly occurring appointment.
"This will be 501," he said.
That’s right — Maher has donated blood more than 500 times. He is one of only a handful of people in New England to reach that milestone. He started in college and never stopped.
"Then it was 100, and 150, and it just – I’m kind of surprised it got to 500," he said.
His trips to the hospital average out to be about once a month. He spends a couple hours of his day there and gets nothing in return, except the satisfaction of knowing he’s helping others.
"Yeah, I guess and that’s a nice feeling," Maher said. "I don’t know them, but I know if it was my wife or my child or my grandchild that needed a platelet donation, I would hope there would be some available."
While Maher downplays the accomplishment, the folks at the Red Cross are forever grateful — and so are many other people.
"When I think of Joe donating 500 times, he’s touched a lot of lives and he may never meet those people," said Mary Brant of the American Red Cross, "but I can guarantee they will never forget him."
Surpassing that milestone, Maher sees no reason to stop now.
"For the moment I’ll keep going," he said.
"Til the well runs dry?" he's asked.
"Or until my arms get so they can’t get the needle in, I don’t know," he responds.
The Red Cross is especially appreciative of people like Maher this time of year. Blood donations drop way down as we get into the summer months, with people traveling and away on vacation. They hope Joe’s story will inspire others to come in and give.