A selfless gift

Mohawk grad, David Neu ‘72 shares his lifelong commitment of giving back through blood donation.

By Meaghan Drury ‘12 

In February 1967, David Neu ‘72 donated blood for the first time. A high school student who had recently moved to the city of Hamilton, David was inspired to do his part to make a difference in the life of someone else.  

From that first donation, David was hooked. “I’ve been a donor ever since." 

As of winter 2023, he has given blood 350 times. David’s dedication to donating blood is impressive, and through his dedication, he was one of the first people in the city to donate platelets - the component of blood that helps with clotting. 

One Sunday evening in the 1980s, David sat at home and switched to the Jerry Lewis Telethon where he saw the story of a ten-year-old girl from San Francisco who was diagnosed with Leukemia. He learned she was receiving blood platelet transfusions through a relatively new procedure. “So, I called up the Red Cross the next day to sign up. It took a year for the program to be implemented and I was one of the first ten people to donate,” David says. Since then, he has donated platelets over 280 times. 

When asked why he continues to give, David has many reasons.  

Early in his career he was hospitalized following an accident at work; after being exposed to powerful and dangerous chemicals he suffered an aneurysm in his shoulder and a collapsed lung. Waking up in the hospital three days later, he found out he had received a number of blood transfusions in his treatment. He thinks back on that event often, sharing, “I’m just one example.” 

Upon his return to work he continued to be an advocate for blood donation, often encouraging his fellow workers to join him at his regular donation appointments.  

The donations became even more personal when his mother developed and eventually passed away from Hodkins Lymphoma. “I just know how much it means to the recipients,” he says.  

Spending days and weeks by his mother’s side while she received treatment, David met many others who were touched by his commitment to donating. One man in particular has stuck out to him. Receiving platelet donations himself, he said six words that brings a tear to David's eye in his retelling, “Thank you for saving my life.” Impactful words and the reason for all David’s efforts.

Upon his retirement, he began volunteering with Canadian Blood Services as a driver. He saw it as both something to occupy his time and another way to give back to the organization he was already so passionate about.  

Although the program was sidelined by the pandemic, prior to 2020, David was often seen driving donors to their appointments. He especially loved connecting with and transporting high school students. They reminded him of his first time donating, and he was able to share his story with them as they headed to the clinic to donate for their very first time.  

David describes blood donation as one of the truly selfless acts a Canadian can do.  

His advice to others considering donating is “donate once then think it about and hopefully you’ll come back, because someone’s life depends on it.”