Paying it Forward: One of RIBC’s Top African American Donors Raises Awareness after Blood Helps Him

Herman Brewster has built a career focused on helping those in the community. That has also carried over into his personal life as he’s a routine blood donor. 

Herman is one of Rhode Island Blood Center’s (RIBC) longest donors. He also happens to be one of our top African American donors. He recently sat down with RIBC to share his story in hopes of inspiring others to give the gift of life.

Herman is a lifelong Rhode Island resident. He first started donating with RIBC in 1981. He is unsure of exactly what made him decide to start donating. It could be he donated once when his wife needed blood after delivering one of their two sons but he isn’t sure. Herman tells RIBC that one thing is for certain, once he started donating, he was hooked. 

“I thought it was a great thing to do and it was really simple.”

As of January 2023, Herman has donated 145 times and is an 18-gallon donor. Herman has done a mixture of double red and whole blood donations. He tells RIBC, donating is so much part of his routine, he now takes iron pills to ensure he can donate regularly. The only gaps in his donating schedule are due to his two battles with cancer.

“With my own health experiences, I realized the importance of blood and in some cases it’s truly life or death.”

Herman tells RIBC that he looked forward to the day he could donate again after his cancer treatments. Rushing to donate after he learned he was eligible.

“It’s just something that I know I need to do. It’s something that makes me feel good.”

Herman knows the importance of blood and the need to have it on the shelves when an emergency strikes. Outside of his battles with cancer, Herman received several units of blood due to a spontaneous bleed. He thinks of donating as a way to pay it forward. To say thank you to those who helped save his life in the event they may need it someday.

“It’s something we all should do, because at some point you don’t know if or when you will need a pint of blood. Just giving a pint of blood is easy and quick.”

He may also use donating as an excuse to get a well-earned snack at the end.

“My excuse to have an Oreo is coming to donate and getting the snack.”

During our talk, Herman reflected on the impact he has had within the community. He is modest when asked how he feels to be a top donor, telling RIBC that donating is something he just has to do. Though he does have some humor when thinking about his donation record.

“At one point, someone told me how many gallons I had. At the time I had a Prius, and I thought wow if blood was gas, I could have ran my Prius for a month and filled up my tank.”

Herman has helped save over 400 lives in our community. He hopes others will be inspired to follow in his footsteps, promising it’s an easy process.

“Give it a try and actually come in and fill out the form. Once on the bed, close your eyes. With the skilled staff, you won’t even feel a thing and before you know it, it’s over.

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