At 80 years old, retired optometrist Charlie Brown has become a "century donor" of blood, giving his 100th pint with a smile in Ashland Friday.

At 80 years old, retired optometrist Charlie Brown has become a "century donor" of blood, giving his 100th pint with a smile in Ashland Friday.

Confessing to being uncomfortable with the sight of blood, Brown says he got in the habit of giving blood and knew it was helping others — so he just kept doing it.

"I'm generally a pretty loyal person and if something is doing good, I'll just keep it up," said Brown, awaiting his turn at First United Methodist Church.

Brown has kept fit and healthy by running, usually clocking five miles, three times a week in younger years — and has been married to wife Glenda since arriving here in 1961.

The key to longevity, he joked, is "wine, women and song and getting along with people." Again joshing, Brown says he keeps getting drawn back to the blood drives "so I can watch all the pretty girls walking around here." Dunlap acknowledges that the social aspect of blood drives has as much draw as the urge to help others.

Two percent of the population in Jackson and Josephine Counties gives blood, below the 8 percent national average, says American Red Cross Territorial Representative Christina Dunlap.

"Most people think it's not needed and that hospitals just have it on hand," she says, "but it has to come from the Red Cross or other smaller blood banks." Brown, she adds, has donated 12.5 gallons of his O-negative blood — or about 10 times the amount of blood in his body — since he started 45 years ago. The blood replenishes itself in 48 hours. Brown's type makes him a "universal donor," able to give to anyone.

Ninety current donors in the county have reached the century donor mark and received the lapel pin, cap and t-shirt that Brown got Friday.

Age is not impediment to donating blood, she says, and every unit of blood gets screened for disease and prescription drugs that are contra-indicated for transfusions.

The blood, says Dunlap, is drawn in about 10 minutes and is separated into platelets, plasma and red blood cells and transfused within a matter of days to people with surgeries, cancer and other needs — with more than 1,000 units being transfused daily in the Northwest.

To find out of you're a good blood donor, call 800-REDCROSS. Blood drives are conducted in Ashland three times a month. Information is at www.soredcross.org.