Blood Brother

By Hannah Wallace August 31, 2007

Sarasota CPA Bill Herron has a deadline, and it has nothing to do with April 15.

By the time Herron takes the gavel as president of the Suncoast Communities Blood Bank next month, he plans to reach the 30-gallon donation mark. (At press time this summer, he was just four donations away from his remarkable goal.) For his decades-long donations, and for his 12-plus years on the local blood bank board, he recently received the Dorothy M. Hansen Award from the Florida Association of Blood Banks.

Herron began donating 30 years ago as a student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. “The Red Cross showed up one day on campus and I said, ‘I’ll give it a try,’” he remembers. After Herron earned his B.S. in accounting in 1977, he moved to Sarasota, where he joined the trust department at the old Ellis Bank. In 1982, he opened his own accounting practice.

“When I moved here, the bloodmobile came to church one day so I started up there,” he says. “In fact, it was at the church at 11 a.m. on the Saturday I was to be married. I gave blood, then at twelve o’clock I got married. I call it my last insane act as a single man.”

Since 1989, Herron has exclusively donated platelets. It’s a slightly longer process, he explains, because the blood must go through a cell separator to remove the platelets. But he can donate more often (up to 24 times in 12 months, versus every 56 days for whole blood), and for people with leukemia or cancer who need platelets to help their blood clot, it’s a life saver.

As incoming board president, Herron says education is a pressing goal. “For 58 years the local blood bank has been humming around in the background with very little visibility,” he says, yet “this year we’ll end up with 25,000 pints of whole blood.” As with every nonprofit, fund raising is a concern. “Lab machines cost upwards of $250,000, and the technology is changing so rapidly.”

Herron also wants to emphasize convenience: “You’re more likely to show up and shove your arm out if the bloodmobile drives up to your door,” he says.

And he wants his milestone donation to inspire others to give:  “We are always looking for new donors.”

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