Dale Faughn is officially amazing.
The 91-year-old Fredonia resident has been recognized by Guinness World Records as the oldest regular blood donor.
“I think I can rightly claim that word ‘regular’ in this case,” said Faughn, a celebrated teacher, poet, WWII veteran, fitness enthusiast and quiz show contestant who strives to “not be ordinary” each and every day of his life.
Faughn’s record setting title comes after 42 years of consistently donating blood at the Baptist Health Madisonville Blood Bank, formerly known as Regional Medical Center.
“It was known as the old Hopkins County Hospital when I first went there,” said Faughn, who first walked into the Madisonville blood bank in July 1975.
It wasn’t the first place or the first time Faughn had given blood though.
“I’m not sure the exact date, but it was in the mid-1950s,” he said.
“Princeton had been getting blood from the prison. Then a ‘walking’ blood bank, not a ‘walk-in’ but a ‘walking’ blood bank was established.”
Faughn said through the “walking blood bank,” potential donors could visit the local hospital and have their blood checked. Staff then filled out a card with the donor’s blood type and contact information. When a person in the hospital needed blood, they could look at the cards to find a potential donor and then call and ask these people if they were willing to give.
One day, Faughn received a call that one of his fellow Caldwell County teachers, Gladys Knott, was sick and needed blood.
“She was the first person I gave blood to,” he said. “Although, I never had to know who was receiving in order for me to give.”
Faughn was intrigued by the process of donating and recalls watching as his A positive blood “came out and went into a jar that had powder in the bottom.”
“I didn’t have any type of negative reaction to the process,” he said, “and I was quite eager to give blood again.”
Faughn said he never set a goal for how much blood he wanted to give and never had any intention of setting a world record when he first got started.
“I just wanted to give,” he said.
“We grew up in the day of the Depression and everything was scarce. We had a hard way to go, my family, but I remember all the people who helped us out.
“Even as a young boy, I thought ‘wouldn’t it be great to, some day, be on the giving end rather than the receiving end.’
“In my early years of teaching, my financial salary was quite low so there wasn’t much there to give. But I realized my blood, I can give that.”
While Faughn was eager to give, his first two decades of donating blood were “quite unsatisfactory.”
“I felt kind of defeated because I wanted to give, but opportunities for donating blood here were scarce,” he said.
When Faughn traveled to bigger cities, like Louisville for his work with the Kentucky Education Association, or Detroit for a summer of continuing education, he always sought out blood banks where he could give.
He also kept his ears open for any opportunities he could find closer to home.
“I remember one time hearing about a pastor in Paducah who needed blood, so I went and gave. One Saturday morning I was in Murray for a class and heard about a woman who needed blood, so I went and gave. I drove to Evansville to give blood when I learned about a judge from Crittenden County who was going to have open heart surgery there,” said Faughn.
“People thought I was crazy or just confused as to why I would drive that far to give blood, but I am a person of obsession. I’m just driven in certain directions, and being able to donate blood is one of my obsessions.
“So imagine how I felt that day when I went walking into the blood bank in Hopkins County.”
In July 1975, Faughn was listening to the radio and heard that someone from this area needed blood over in Madisonville.
“So I went to the old Hopkins County Hospital and found just what I was looking for all those years — a place where I could give blood,” he said.
“It was right there, close to home, and I could give blood anytime I wanted — well every 56 days.”
And Faughn has been faithful about giving, rarely missing an opportunity to donate blood when his eligible day rolls around on the calendar.
“I added it up and I have a rate of 96 percent. I did miss some when I broke my hip years ago, and there were times I was away during the summer and would get off schedule, but I always gave as soon as I got back,” said Faughn.
“I’m just sorry I missed out on giving more in the early years, the time before I knew about the blood bank in Madisonville.”
Faughn’s record in the Guinness World Records does not include any of those early years of giving. It starts from the time he started giving in Madisonville.
“And that is the place I have been going regularly for 42 years now,” he said. “Their people are just top notch.”
In June 1982, Faughn said the staff at the blood bank in Madisonville “showed out big” when he finished his first five gallons. He was 56 years old at the time.
“I have the needle from that one, and I have needles from some other times, too,” he said.
When Faughn gave 10 gallons, he received a plaque from the American Association of Blood Banks.
“Periodically, through the years, the blood bank staff have given me plaques and had some sort of presentation or called the newspaper in to take my photo,” he said.
In 2004, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Regional Medical Center Blood Bank and recognized by the Baxter blood company.
His second Hall of Fame induction came from the Fenwell company through the Regional Medical Center Blood Bank in 2012.
One of the most surprising presentations, Faughn said, occurred in 2005 when he reached the 23 gallon mark.
Faughn was teaching at Caldwell County High School at the time and fellow teacher Roy Gene Rogers asked him to go to the gym and help judge a speech contest.
“When I walked in, there was the staff from the blood bank. They had come to present a plaque to me,” he said. “It was quite a big surprise. They (the staff from Baptist Health Madisonville Blood Bank) could just always find reasons to do things for me.”
Some time back, Faughn mentioned to blood bank staff that it was possible he was setting some type of record with all his years of giving blood.
“And they took it from there,” he said. “The process took months to complete, I imagine because of having to go through to check and confirm all the records.”
Faughn was submitted to Guinness World Records in May 2016, the date which appears on the website guinnessworldrecords.com, naming him the oldest regular blood donor in the world.
Baptist Health Madisonville Blood Bank staff recently contacted Faughn to tell him that he had indeed set a record and they wanted to honor him.
Baptist Health Madisonville has invited Faughn and his family to a ceremony in October where they will celebrate his being named a Guinness World Record holder.
“And if things go right, by the end of this year, I will have given 33 gallons of blood,” he said.
Each time he visits the blood bank in Madisonville, Faughn gives one pint of whole blood.
Over the last 42 years, he has given approximately 264 pints of blood, which in turn has helped save nearly 800 lives.
Faughn has also encouraged others to give blood and recalls taking many former students with him to the blood bank.
He invited 17-year-old Cole Sherrill to join him during his most recent trip to the Madisonville blood bank.
“We went two days after Cole turned 17, and he just asked me the other day when we can go back and donate blood again,” said Faughn.
Duane Phelps is Faughn’s regular donating buddy, and the two men have established a routine for each trip to the blood bank.
“I write poems about giving blood and we often perform these poems as songs for the people at the blood bank. We set the poems to the tune of old hymns,” said Faughn.
The men also have a routine for leaving the blood bank each time.
“There is a chapel right next to the blood bank. We go in there and thank God for giving us our health and allowing us to donate blood. And then we pray for the people who are going to receive our blood,” said Faughn.
“I know they are happy to receive it, but I doubt they are as happy as we are to give it.”
Faughn’s profile found on the Guinness World Records site reads, “Mr. Faughn continues to donate blood at Baptist Health (formerly Regional Medical Center) every eight weeks without fail. He is a big supporter of the blood bank, encouraging his friends and family to donate as well as writing poems praising the virtues of blood donation.”