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A Miami Moment with ... Blood brothers Richard Munson and Cliff Poppel

12/13/2012

Cliff Poppel and Dr. Richard Munson in The Conservatory at Miami University Hamilton.
Cliff Poppel and Dr. Richard Munson in The Conservatory at Miami University Hamilton.
photo: Perry Richardson
Today (Dec. 14) Cliff Poppel donates his 300th pint of blood, a milestone worthy of praise, according to his colleague and fellow donor Richard Munson. Employees on the Hamilton campus, they both encourage each other in a friendly competition with the winners being those they help.

Q: How long have you both been donating blood?

A: Munson: Cliff actually has me beat by many years. I only started in my 30s. I was a graduate student in the horticultural program at Cornell University. A fellow student, a Navy veteran, challenged me to donate, saying that Army men were wimps. An Army veteran, I had to take him up on it. [To date, Munson has donated 285 pints.]

A: Poppell: I was 16. My grandmother needed pints of blood donated for a surgery. I don’t remember what the surgery was for, but back then, you had to donate your own blood. She asked my parents if we could help her. My brother and I donated our pints, and I’ve been donating ever since.

Q: What keeps you going back to donate regularly?

A: Munson: It’s a regular part of my routine, a normal part of my life, something that I do. I’ll be honest; the first time I gave, I was nervous and almost fainted from the needle. Guess I watched too closely. Now, I wish I could give more, but due to a heart condition, I am only allowed to give eight times a year. I go and donate, then make my appointment for the next time.

A: Poppell: Well, I credit my grandmother. Donating is a good cause. It saves lives. There is such a shortage of blood. I started going back every eight weeks. It’s my way of helping people and giving back to the community. About two years ago, I started donating my blood platelets and plasma. They use those for cancer patients and burn victims. The rule is I can donate up to 24 times a year.

Their combined blood donations would fill all three containers.
Their combined blood donations would fill all three containers.
photo: Perry Richardson
Q: In total, the two of you would fill two 32-gallon containers and a 10-gallon bucket with your combined total of 585 pints. What do yogurt cups have to do with the amount you both donate?

A: Munson: [Laughing] As manager of The Conservatory at Miami Hamilton, I use empty yogurt cups as planters for seedlings. We give those to elementary students as gifts when they visit us. Cliff collects the cups and sends me a box of 15 or so each week. He started putting notes in the cups to let me know how many pints he donated, and that started our competition.

A: Poppel: [Laughing] I eat a lot of yogurt. I work in building and grounds at Miami Hamilton, usually at University Hall. I don’t get to see Dick every day, so sending notes was my way to have some friendly fun.

Q: Why should people donate blood?

A: Munson: Well, it makes me feel good. It is very uplifting. The people in the center treat you very well. After my first donation, I don't even think about the needle anymore. More importantly, I know I am helping people. The blood bank calls with a recorded message telling me that my blood just helped a patient at Miami Valley Hospital, or wherever my blood was sent in the region. I don’t know much about the person, but it is kind of nice to hear.

A: Poppel: I always feel better after I donate. It actually gives me energy. I would encourage people to try it. It only takes about 20 minutes.

(To learn more about donating blood, contact the Community Blood Center at 1-800-388-GIVE.)

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