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      At 75, Sumter man keeps donating blood

      Blood supplies tend to dwindle in the midlands during the holiday season.

      SUMTER (WACH) - Health officials are looking for more people like Bob Artus this holiday season. Artus has a streak going that few can match; he's donated blood nearly 500 times in his life and it doesn't look like he'll be stopping anytime soon.

      "Never gave it much thought until the Red Cross said: Hey do you know how much blood you donated?" It didn't bother me because I just kept on going." Artus has been donating every couple months since 1951.

      The 75-year-old retired Ford Motors worker shows no signs of slowing down. He keeps an active schedule working out three days a week, tending to his chickens, and keeping all his doctors appointments. He always makes time to donate blood. "I'll keep going until they won't take it from me anymore."

      "When you hear about somebody who has donated that many units of blood; it really helps take the fear out of it and it helps you realize why you do it, to give back," says Jamie Muldrow of the Red Cross. Muldrow says blood supplies tend to dwindle as the holiday season approaches and fewer people take time to donate.

      Artus saw first hand how important his donations are decades ago when he helped a co-worker with a ruptured aorta. "You laid on one bed and he laid on the other and they just took your blood from your body into his body. It wasn't stored or anything. It made me feel good because I knew my blood was there to keep Joe alive."

      When Artus started donating blood in the early '50s, gas was less than a quarter and a stamp was three cents. Nearly 500 pints later Artus is in an elite class. "We do have some donors who have donated more, which is hard to believe," says Muldrow.

      Artus has some advice for those who are afraid to donate. "Try it, you'll like it!"