Donating Blood is Personal for Dorothy Minkus-McKenna

Story by Jonathan Sandstrom, photos by Dorothy Minkus-McKenna

Dorothy Minkus-McKenna’s father Bernie, a World War II Army Veteran stationed in Japan, passed away 36 years ago. His memory and the things Bernie stood for live on within 74-year-old Dorothy of Darien, Connecticut. “Years ago, my father needed lots of blood, so donating became personal,” Dorothy said. “He was a wonderful father, kind, understanding and a great role model. Growing up, I didn’t realize how important this was.”

She understands now. Dorothy did some research and discovered the average human body contains about 1.5 gallons of blood. “After he passed, I set a goal to match the amount of blood in his body,” she explained. Dorothy knows donated blood goes where it’s needed most. But, “once I reached the goal, I thought someone else’s father might need blood, so I kept on giving,” she said. Dorothy donates a couple of times a year. Since starting on this journey, she’s contributed over five gallons.

Looking back, she recalls Bernie being very proud of his service during the war. After being discharged, Bernie worked as an electrician for Westinghouse in Springfield, Massachusetts. He used his knowledge and expertise to help others affected by the war in his spare time, including a WWII widow he helped several times. “As long as she paid for the parts, he did the work free of charge. He would help people unselfishly,” she recalled. “Dad was extremely generous and kind to everyone. He even built an ice rink for us kids in the backyard.”

Dorothy said those values were passed down to her. “Above all, I love my parents. When Dad passed, I wanted to do something special,” she said. “He needed lots of blood, to combat some form of leukemia. What better way to honor him than to replenish the supply he used.”

It’s been over three decades since Bernie passed, but once Dorothy reached her goal, she was inspired to keep going. “I was blessed with a wonderful father and wanted to help others who might be in the same boat,” she said. “Having a positive memory driving my donations makes it personal. I know the blood goes wherever it’s needed, but in my mind, some of it goes to a father somewhere who’s in need.”

At present, Dorothy is recovering from knee surgery, but she plans to continue donating after she’s back on her feet more regularly.

She knows donating blood is important but some may shy away. “The obvious advice I’d give is don’t be afraid. Think of the life you are giving someone,” Dorothy said. “You’d want someone doing it for you or one of your relatives. I hate needles, so every time I go I just look the other way and pretend I’m doing something else. Just do it.”

Blood is the Red Cross’ lifeline. Help keep the supply full. Sign up for a blood donation appointment at

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