Blood donors give for life

Laying on a medical chair, her legs crossed and her right arm extended into a fist that clutched a red stress ball, Nancy Becker was preparing for her contribution to the community.

"I have deep-set veins, so I'm not an easy stick," she said Wednesday afternoon to the phlebotomist.

Becker looked at the ceiling as the needle went into her arm.

"Are you OK?" United Blood Services lab assistant Beth Jacoby asked.

"Uh-huh," Becker answered, sounding relieved. "You did a very good job. That was a nice stick."

Her A-positive blood flowed into the one-pint plastic bag. As directed, she squeezed the stress ball every five seconds. Becker, 50, is a blood donor again, after lowering her high blood pressure. When she's finished here, Becker will go back to her office to write an opinion. She's the chief justice of the Nevada Supreme Court.

The Las Vegas justice, who spends about 60 percent of her time in Carson City, said she donates blood because it gives her the gratification that she is affecting other people's lives.

Becker was one of several community leaders who spent their lunch breaks at the "Unity in the Community" Executive Blood Drive at United Blood Services' Carson City center, 256 E. Winnie Lane. The drive was an effort to increase blood donation awareness.

Milton Angel, a material handler at APL Logistics in Patrick, gives blood because he still can. The field is narrow, and at 65 he still qualifies to donate whole blood.

"So I thought I'd keep giving until something got me," he said.

The Carson City man is familiar with many of the employees at the Carson City center. In about 30 years he's given 95 units of red blood and 15 units of platelets. A center official said that's not only a lot of blood, that's the most for any person that they have on record.

Minden man Earl Mussett, 78, finished donating "a double bag" of his coveted O-negative blood and received a pink bandage around his left arm.

"It's a cheap physical," he said about his regular blood donations. "They take your blood pressure, pulse and temperature."

Although he's retired, Mussett is a full-time recreationist. He teaches line dancing and Tai Chi. Tai Chi is one of the best things for your health, Mussett said. He demonstrated by holding red blood-drop shaped stress balls in his palms and contorting into a Tai Chi move.

Last year, his wife had back surgery and needed five pints of blood. For Mussett that's a good enough reason to keep donating. He could be helping someone else's wife or relative.

For information on blood donation contact United Blood Services at 887-9111.

n Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at or 881-1212.


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