WHEN Coolangatta resident Leonard Caple gave blood for the first time, he didn't expect to become a life-long donor.
More than 50 years after his first donation however, Mr Caple has rolled up his sleeves for the Australian Red Cross a staggering 250 times.
Mr Caple said his first donation as a 19-year-old Australian Naval Officer was an opportunity he didn't want to miss.
"I came up on deck one morning and there was a Red Cross sign asking for blood donors - if you gave a pint of blood you would get half the day off," Mr Caple said.
"That sounded like a pretty good deal to me, so I signed up and I've done it every year since."
A reluctant everyday hero, Mr Caple continued donating blood when he began a 30-year career with Fire and Emergency Services in Western Australia.
"It became a habit and the only thing which has stopped me from donating is when I've been overseas - but I have donated twice in New Zealand," he said.
"I only have five years to go until I reach the age limit for donors (80 years of age), but if I could, I would keep on donating."
A keen cyclist who rides a 33km circuit every morning, Mr Caple said he hoped his story would inspire others to jump inside a donation van.
"Only 3% of Australians give blood each year, but 30% of the population will need blood," he said.
"If anybody is thinking about giving blood, don't think - just do it. There's nothing to it."
Mr Caple said he was looking forward to a recognition ceremony in Coolangatta later this week, which was being held as part of National Blood Donor Week celebrations.
Australian Red Cross Blood Service community relations officer Stephanie Allen said with each blood donation saving three lives, Mr Caple was an inspiration.
"It really is such a simple thing to do, but giving blood changes the lives of so many different people," Ms Allen said.
"Donated blood is used to help people involved in accidents and emergencies and a lot of the blood is used to treat people with cancer and other serious illnesses."
Ms Allen said an Australian Red Cross Blood Service donation van would be at Tweed Heads South and Coolangatta this week.
"We always get a lot of support from the Tweed and southern Gold Coast, but this is the time of year where we ask new donors to get on board and help the regulars.
"We particularly need new donors for Friday, which is our quietest day so far."
The van will be located at the South Tweed Sports Club car park today and will move to Marine Pde, Coolangatta (opposite the Surf Club) on Wednesday to Saturday this week.
If you would like to donate blood, phone 13 14 95.
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