Mower’s blood brothers

Brothers Richard, left, and Len Titus, have both given blood to the American Red Cross for a number of years with no signs of letting up. Eric Johnson/

To end a shortage, the Red Cross is seeking more dedicated donors

Between the two of them, brothers Len and Richard Titus have been giving blood for more than 100 years.

Richard, 86, started giving blood in the Navy in the 1950s, but he admits his 76-year-old brother has given a bit more. About a year ago, Len hit a milestone: 21 gallons of blood donated —about 168 pints — to the Red Cross.

“The people who work there tell you how good it helps people in need,” Len said.

Richard has also given more times than he can count, and said he’s not too far behind his brother.

“I’m sure it’s something over a hundred times,” Richard said of the number of times he’s given blood.

Red Cross officials are looking for more people like Richard and Len as they work to end a summer blood shortage. After an emergency call for blood donations was issued in June, there are positive signs, but there’s still a big need to fill, according to Sue Gonsior, program manager in communications at the Red Cross.

“We’d really love for the Mower County residents to help offset the blood shortage,” Gonsior said.

The Red Cross will hold a three-day blood drive in Austin Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at Sterling State Bank.

The Red Cross, which supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood, has gained ground since being down 50,000 units from last year in June. Since then, 15,000 donations have been made to cut the deficit by about 30 percent, according to Gonsior.

“We have seen the blood supply slowly improve, but we need more donors in August,” she said.

The blood shortage is partly seasonal, as blood donations drop in the summer. About 20 percent of the nation’s blood comes from high school and college drives during the school year, according to Gonsior.

This year, Gonsior said other factors have kept people from donating, like heat across the Midwest and storms across the country. With the Fourth of July falling on a Wednesday, few businesses held drives that week, Gonsior said.

Blood donations typically fill local needs first, but Gonsior said the Red Cross transports blood where ever it is needed.

“It’s really been across the whole nation,” she said this summer’s shortage.

Despite the need for blood, Gonsior said the shortage has not forced hospitals to cancel surgeries or procedures.

“What we want to do is make sure that we didn’t run into a crisis,” she said.

Richard, a retired data processing teacher, plans to give blood again Monday. He described giving blood as an easy way to give back.

“It’s just something that I can do,” he said.

Once he got past his initial fears, Len said it’s been easy to donate blood.

Len was once one of the people too squeamish to give blood. But, when he was working for Hormel Foods Corp., a friend urged him to give back. He delivered typewriters Hormel had donated to the Red Cross and was able to check out the process a few times before doing it himself.

After the first donation, Len kept going back and soon found himself watching how much blood he’d given.

“It was kind of a goal to compare to other people,” he said.

Both brothers are O-negatives, which means they are universal donors.

After being honored for reaching 21 gallons last year, Len said plans to keep giving blood.

“If I can qualify, I’ll do it again,” he said.

 Mower County Blood Drive

Sterling State Bank, 1419 First Ave. SW, Austin

•Monday: 1 to 7 p.m.

•Tuesday: noon to 6 p.m.

•Wednesday: noon to 6 p.m.


All donors will receive a coupon for a free pint of Culver’s frozen custard as part of the Pint for a Pint Program. As part of the Red Cross’ “Live Life. Give Life.” summer-long promotion, all donors will also be entered into a raffle to receive a prize certificate package worth $5,000 redeemable at

Other upcoming blood drives:

•Aug. 16: 2 to 7 p.m., Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, 411 Main St. W., Brownsdale

•Aug. 18: 8:15 a.m. to 1:15 a.m. at the Fair Lane Community Center, 1031 Bridge Avenue, Albert Lea

•Aug. 22: noon to 6 p.m. at the National Guard Armory, 410 Prospect Ave., Albert Lea

•Aug. 23 1 to 7 p.m. at the National Guard Armory, 410 Prospect Ave., Albert Lea

•Aug. 24 1 to 6 p.m. at Hollandale Reformed Church, 101 Park Ave., Hollandale

•Aug. 24: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., at North Bridge Mall, 2510 Bridge Avenue, Albert Lea


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