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


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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