He calls himself Steve “O” Negative, the universal donor.
Steve Harrell is a retiree from Florida who has made it his mission to give blood in all 50 states.
NBC 7 ran into him in Escondido after he donated blood for the 16th time in three years.
"Every eight weeks or so I try to donate blood in another state,” said Harrell. “I’m trying to do all 50 states, which will take 10 years.”
Get San Diego local news, weather forecasts, sports and lifestyle stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC San Diego newsletters.
He got the idea after his 9-year-old grandson convinced him to join a blood drive at his school. It felt so good that Harrell decided to make it a habit.
“I’m a little southern boy, grew up on a farm and when I started this I thought, 'Oh, this is pretty neat, giving back to the community, for our country, and bringing awareness to blood drives.' You know people get out and do it, they become a hero, because every time you donate blood you save three lives," Harrell said.
His donation means a lot in San Diego County because the blood supply is dangerously low, prompting the San Diego Blood Bank to issue an urgent plea for people to donate.
Normally, the blood bank has a seven-day supply on hand, but several factors, including an increase in surgeries at local hospitals, have left the supply at only three days’ worth.
It’s easy, says Harrell. “15-minutes, 30 at the most. It doesn’t hurt, you know. I mean look at me. I’ve done it in 16 states in a row. I’m doing great,” Harrell said, laughing. “Just about anybody can do it. So, get off the couch and go do it.”
The San Diego Blood Bank has eight locations across the county. To donate, make an appointment here.