'His blood's worth bottling': Nev Cowgill donates for the 172nd, and final, time

Eden's Nev Cowgill makes his final blood donation on Monday with nursing assistant Sally Nocher.
Eden's Nev Cowgill makes his final blood donation on Monday with nursing assistant Sally Nocher.

Nev Cowgill once gave blood while lying in the shade of an aeroplane wing aboard a Navy carrier berthed in Manila Harbour.

On Monday, however, the surroundings were much more sedate, as he offered up his arm for his 172nd (officially recorded) donation at the Red Cross mobile blood van in Bega.

It was also his last.

Now that he's about to turn 81, Mr Cowgill can not continue to donate as per Australian Red Cross Blood Service rules.

"My use-by date has arrived," he said with a wry chuckle.

Given a healthy person can only donate once every 12 weeks at most, even reaching 100 is an achievement the Red Cross Blood Service said.

A fellow blood donor on Monday was overheard saying "Nev's blood is definitely worth bottling!"

Mr Cowgill - who is also a long-time volunteer in numerous community organisations - said he's likely donated many more times on top of the 172 the service has on record. He began when an 18-year-old in the Navy as "it seemed like a good thing to do".

Given every donation can reportedly save three lives, it's extraordinary and humbling to think how Mr Cowgill's vital offerings have helped.

Blood donations are needed for cancer and trauma patients, burns victims and people with blood disorders.

"One day I might hurt myself and need blood as well so I feel it's a worthwhile thing," he said.

Among the more memorable donations Mr Cowgill recalls was one in the Philippines while serving in the Navy.

Within an hour of dropping anchor in Manila Harbour, a bus crash saw authorities heading out in boats to request donations from the servicemen on board the Navy carrier.

"I was lying under the wing of an aeroplane trying to find shade, with a rolled up blanket under my head, giving blood," Mr Cowgill said.

"Boy that deck was pretty hot!"

Another time was at HMAS Albatross and he was running late for his appointment.

"They used the cinema there and I was running late. I ran from the hangars all the way over. It definitely got my heart pumping because I filled it up in record time.

"It's been getting slower lately though."

Mr Cowgill said there have been significant changes during his time donating.

While in Bega Monday, sausage rolls and orange juice were on offer, he recalls a time when stepping out of the donating room you would enjoy complimentary beer and cigarettes!

"It's so totally different now. They've certainly refined it a lot."

Blood will be needed by thousands of people across Australia this Easter long weekend and with the Mobile Blood Service in town this week, the Bega community will be helping to bolster blood stocks over this critical time.

To give blood, call 13 14 95 or book online at www.donateblood.com.au.