Jack Schrader’s blood has gone into as many as 370 people including, most likely, some who wouldn’t be alive without it.

The 74-year-old Manchester resident has given more than 14 gallons of the stuff since his first donation in 1965, when he was motivated to give blood by his brother, Stan, serving in the Army in Vietnam. He said he figured donating blood was the least he could do to give back to the community and repay people like his brother who were fighting for him. Schrader was unable to join the military due to having a medical condition, hydrocephalus.

Since then, he’s gone far beyond the “least he could do,” having, since 1965, donated blood more than 123 times.

For donating so much blood, over such a long period of time, Schrader was recently recognized as a “Real Hero” by the Central and Mid Coast Maine Chapter of the American Red Cross, receiving the organization’s Real Heroes Blood Services Award.

Jack Schrader waits to donate blood on Wednesday in a Red Cross van at the Augusta branch of Kennebec Savings Bank. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

Mary Brant, communications manager for the American Red Cross Northern New England Region, said one blood donation can help as many as three people, so Schrader’s donations could have helped as many as 370 people over the years.

He met two people at the Real Heroes Awards Breakfast earlier this month who both told him his blood donations likely saved their lives.

“They came up to me and said, ‘You probably saved my life.’ They were both type A positive,” said the affable Schrader, who has type A positive blood. “One was a young lady who had had 20 pints of blood, due to illness. That made me feel good, to meet somebody who had likely gotten my blood.”

Schrader has given blood consistently over the years, only taking a break, for a year in 2010 or so, after he had heart surgery.

“I give as often as I can,” he said, which, according to Brant, is every eight weeks if donating red blood cells. “Just because it keeps somebody alive, or at least certainly gives them the blood they need.”

He usually gives blood at employee blood drives at Kennebec Savings Bank in Augusta, where his wife worked for 42 years.

Brant said giving that much blood, for such a long time, is unusual, and it’s amazing to think about how many people his blood donations have helped.

“We need more donors like Jack. We can’t thank him enough for all he has done and all the lives his donations have touched,” she said. “Only 3 percent of the U.S. population donates blood. So we’re so grateful for loyal volunteer donors like Jack who keep the blood supply strong.”

Brant said there is no other source of blood for people who need it other than people who donate it – and fewer new donors are giving blood. Every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood, according to the American Red Cross, including people with chronic illnesses, cancer, transplant recipients, patients undergoing surgery and trauma victims. The victim of a single car accident can require as many as 100 pints of blood. Information on donating blood is available at redcrossblood.org.

“It only takes an hour to share your good health with patients in need,” Brant said. “It’s such an easy way to be a hero to a patient in need. There is no other source of blood other than a healthy blood donor.”

Schrader said, despite having undergone heart surgery, he must still have a strong heart because when he donates blood, “I can drop a pint in about four minutes.”

He said it doesn’t hurt to give, and sometimes he doesn’t even feel the needle prick, which starts the process.

Schrader lives with his wife, Diane, on Pond Road in Manchester in a home the couple built in 1987, on land where Schrader grew up, next to a 25-room home his grandparents ran as a boardinghouse. He retired after working 18 years at the former Digital plant in Augusta.

When he’s not donating blood, he is a ham radio operator, reads, volunteers at the PALS cat shelter in East Winthrop and delivers Meals on Wheels.

Schrader was one of nine Mainers recognized with Real Heroes awards by the Red Cross this month.

“These Real Heroes are ordinary people who have committed extraordinary acts,” Johanna Lloyd, chairwoman of the Real Heroes Committee, said in a statement. “Whether they saved a life through quick action or saw and met a need in their community, they all embody the humanitarian spirit that is at the heart of the American Red Cross. They are an inspiration to us all.”


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