Eleanor Mulder, 85, has achieved many things in her life. She raised four children, will soon celebrate her her 63rd wedding anniversary, and remains a passionate community advocate. Now, she can add 500-time blood donor to that list.
That’s a new record for Lane County, a milestone she alone has reached.
“It’s one of the few volunteer things I can do now,” Eleanor said during a recent apheresis appointment at Lane Blood Center. “Sometimes when you start doing something, you just keep doing it.”
Apheresis donors can give every two weeks, unlike donors of whole blood, who are eligible every eight weeks. That means the donations rack up faster.
Eleanor comes in for her appointment like clockwork, postponing only when traveling or when her iron levels are low. To avoid the latter, her husband, Tony Mulder, prepares an iron-rich meal of liver the night before her regular appointment.
“If this were a sport, she’d probably be accused of doping,” Tony, 82, said as Lane Blood staffers passed plates of cake at a party held in honor of his wife, a retired vocational rehabilitation counselor who volunteers with the League of Women Voters on transportation issues and remains active with Friends of the Eugene Public Library. In honor of Eleanor’s ongoing commitment to saving Lane County lives, Lane Blood Center made a contribution in her name to the Eugene Public Library.
Eleanor began donating blood at age 16 in her home town of Columbia, Mo. She also has given in Minnesota, Ohio and England. Those donations are in addition to the 500 she made at Lane Blood Center since she and Tony settled in Eugene in 1969.
Both The Register-Guard and KVAL-TV came to the blood center to do stories on her accomplishment. Eleanor claimed to be surprised by all the fuss surrounding her 500th donation. But she razzed fellow donors Dave Tobin (464 donations) and Bill Wardle (414 donations), who hope to be the second and third Lane County residents to hit the 500-donation mark. “You’re catching up,” she said, with a sly smile.
“As long as they keep giving cookies, I’ll keep donating,” Bill retorted.