Margaret Delfino donated her 200th pint of blood last week, bringing her total to to more than 25 gallons.
Delfino, a 90-year-old great-grandmother in Bakersfield, California, began giving blood in 1954. She donated regularly until 2001, when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. After five years of treatment, her doctors declared her cancer-free and she then continued donating. Now she brings several family members with her when she donates at the Houchin Blood Bank in Bakersfield, hoping they’ll donate, too. Delfino says only a small percentage of people in her area donate blood. “To think in Kern County that there are only 3 percent who give blood when there are so many who are able to donate,” she said. Delfino wants to get the message out for more people to donate. “It can mean the difference between life and death for some people,” she said. She said she believes that donating blood is one reason she may have survived her cancer. “Because I donated all that blood, and the doctors were changing my blood, is why I came through the cancer the way I did,” she said.
Delfino has plenty of family support, too, and she would like to see her family members follow in her footsteps. “She’s just an inspiration to all of us,” said Jennifer Parks, Delfino’s granddaughter. “She’s been a huge part of my children’s lives, who are now 9, 8 and 5. My children know where her interest lies and that is in donating blood.” Jennifer does not donate, but her sister Natalie does. “Natalie and my grandmother coordinate their days so they donate together,” said Parks. “My grandmother drives herself to the blood bank, which is about six miles, and it’s a date they have every eight weeks.” All three of Delfino’s children, two grand-children and four of eight great-grand-children live in Bakersfield. Delfino says it is the children who keep her motivated. The great-grandmother still lives in her own home on slightly more than an acre of property and enjoys gardening, planting flowers and time with family.