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Blood donor nears 34-gallon milestone
Cozart will retire when he hits mark
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Robert “Wayne” Cozart found a unique way to celebrate Red Cross Month in Martinsville and Henry County. He used pins received for giving blood to adorn the face of a clock. Cozart’s clock will be displayed in the Piedmont Virginia Chapter of the Red Cross office in Martinsville when he donates his 34th gallon of blood and will stay there until his record is broken. (Contributed photo)

Friday, March 8, 2013

From Bulletin staff reports

In the next few months, Robert “Wayne” Cozart will retire from an unusual task — donating blood to the American Red Cross.

“I’ve been giving blood for 61 years,” said Cozart, 80. “And I’m still giving. I’m going to give 34 gallons before I retire.”

Meeting that goal will take eight months, Cozart estimated.

“I’ve completed 33 gallons, and half of the 34” he needs to retire, he said. He will donate again at the next blood drive, he added.

Karen Smith, a volunteer at the Piedmont Virginia Chapter of the Red Cross, which serves Martinsville and Danville, as well as Henry, Patrick and Pittsylvania counties, said blood donations are made a pint at a time.

A healthy donor can give every 56 days, she said.

Cozart’s donations are “a lot. We had one guy that gave 26 gallons and we thought that was a lot,” Smith said of the late Talmadge Hatchett.

Smith does not know how long it would take to donate as many pints as Cozart has, but “it would take a number of years to work up to” 34 gallons, she said.

Smith also does not know if his 34 gallons is the highest amount given by anyone in the area, but it “is a high amount here for our location,” she said.

Cozart said he first gave blood while serving in the Marines.

“They gave you a weekend pass if you give blood,” he recalled, chuckling.

Later, when he was in Texas, someone needed his type of blood — O positive — and Cozart said he donated again. Then, while he was working for the Orlando (Fla.) Police Department, Cozart said he also donated blood.

But Cozart did not give regularly until he moved to Martinsville in 1962.

“I just gave blood when they called and said they needed it,” he said. “It was just more habit than anything else. They would call, and I would just go over and give blood.”

He has donated regularly 268 times, he said, adding that does not include the times he donated sporadically in other states.

Cozart said he had no goals set when he started giving regularly, mostly in Martinsville. Occasionally, he said he donated blood at drives in Roanoke.

“For several years, it was difficult to give around here” because many years ago, blood drives were held “only in factories, and they didn’t encourage people to come in,” he said.

Now the Red Cross has one at the Liberty Fair Mall each Thursday, and often different organizations sponsor a drive, he said.

For each gallon donated, the Red Cross gives the donor a pin.

“I took all of the little pins they give me” and made a clock that is finished except for the last one, Cozart said. He will affix that pin to the clock when he donates his 34th gallon.

Cozart said the clock then will be donated to the local Red Cross chapter, where it will remain until his record is surpassed.

Smith asked residents to get involved and help celebrate Red Cross Month in Martinsville and Henry County.

For more information, call the local chapter at 632-5127.


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