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YOLANDE DU PREEZ
A Faerie Glen resident gave his 407th unit of blood on World Blood Donor Day yesterday, making him the person who has donated the most units of blood in SA.
Lionel Lewis, 79, a semi-retired chartered accountant, said he gave his first unit of blood when he was just 16.
“I think it was around 1949 and I have been doing so ever since,” he said.
Lewis has received several trophies and certificates, including one from the Guinness World Book of Records in 2007.
He said he first enquired about donating blood while visiting the Rand Easter Show.
Lewis said he joined St John Ambulance after school and while he was on patrol duty at the show he walked past a stand of the then-SA Blood Transfusion Service.
“I had the finger-prick test to determine my blood type. I completed a form and left it with them,” he said.
“They called me a year later and I have not looked back.”
Lewis said he was surprised yesterday when he read that the holder of the record for giving the most units of blood was Maurice Creswick.
“I was reading Blood Beat, the SA National Blood Service’s magazine, when I saw this. I was under the impression that it was me,” he said.
Vanessa Raju, spokeswoman for the service, said Lewis held the record for the most units, but Creswick held that for being the most consistent donor over a period.
New blood-donation technology now allows donors to give blood platelets every two weeks instead of every eight weeks.
Lewis said his record had also been disputed last year after it was discovered that during a clinical trial he had been able to give blood once every six weeks, a violation of the supposed rules of the record.
In 1987, Lewis had a triple heart bypass and could not give blood for a while.
“As soon as I was given the go-ahead by my doctor I was back in the chair giving blood,” he said.
Lewis said he intended to give two more units this year.
“My goal is to donate my 409th unit on my 80th birthday,” he said.