MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – For PG Winstead Jr, giving blood is a simple act of giving back. Tuesday, the Myrtle Beach native will be donating his 20th gallon of blood.
For over 40 years, the former Marine has been donating as often as possible, usually every 56 weeks. His selfless act began when he was serving the United States in the Vietnam War.
"I had given when I was in the Marine Corps. There was a terrible snow storm where I was stationed and they had an emergency blood drive. When they typed my blood, the nurse got all excited and said 'You're O-negative,'" recalls PG Winstead Jr.
O-negative blood is rare, people with this type of blood are considered universal donors.
"I always knew it was a universal donor, but then I found out I was a special type of O-negative that they save for infants, for babies," says Winstead.
His type of blood is saved for children fighting cancer, babies born prematurely, or children undergoing heart surgeries.
"How can I not give an hour every 8 weeks, to save a baby's life?" says Winstead.
Even before knowing how rare his blood is, he continued to donate for decades.
"I've been blessed, it's hard not to give back," he explains.
The fact that he is able to save children's lives motivates him to continue.
"I have children, and grand kids, and…it could be one of them. After being a good father, and husband, this is the most important thing that I do," says Winstead.
According to the Red Cross, one pint of blood can save three lives. Mr. Winstead will be giving his 160th pint of blood on Tuesday. In his lifetime, he has helped more than 480 lives.
"It's just something that you do," he says.
His wife, Michele Winstead, says giving blood has been a priority in his life, with no accolades or knowledge from others. She secretly contacted WMBF news, without her husband knowing.
"He deserves to be recognized. And hopefully this will encourage other people to go out and donate blood, as well," says Mrs.Winstead.
Her mother recently underwent an operation and needed blood.
"It's something you don't think about until you need it. And we were so grateful it was there. Without it, she wouldn't have lived," says Mrs. Winstead.
The family wants you to know that you do not need to wait for a blood drive. You can call 1 800 RED CROSS to schedule an appointment.