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Sometimes heroes don’t wear capes. They just donate much-needed blood regularly. Forty-five-year-old Elton May, a Senior Assistant Librarian at Joburg City Library, is one of hordes of City employees who has donated the most.May’s first blood donation was as an 18-year-old matriculant when the South African National Blood Service visited his school in 1996.

​May says after being told the importance of donating blood and how it helps people, that’s when he decided that donating blood is something he’d continue to do.

“I was curious and young, so I thought let me just give it a try and see if I like it or not. It was a bit scary because it was a first-time experience,” he shares. “Surprisingly it all went smoothly.”

He says this was the start of something that became a tradition for him. To date, he has donated 63 units of blood.

May joined the City in 2002 as a volunteer at Noordgesig library after a brief stint in the army. Instead of sitting at home, he wanted to be involved in his community, which is how he landed the volunteer position. He later became a library assistant. This opened the door to his appointment to the Joburg library in 2012.

May describes donating blood as a painless process. “It’s a very easy and effortless process.” He considers it part of his routine. He says he donates as often as he can, and in the past few years, he has donated blood six times a year.

“It’s just a small gesture from my side to help someone else out there. You never know who might need it. It’s my small civic duty to help people that I can.”

To get more people on board, May always tells his friends and family members that it’s not difficult to donate blood. He is constantly encouraging his two teenage nieces to try and get them inspired to donate blood.

May is an introverted person who loves gaming. He is also an avid reader. Although he mostly keeps to himself, when it comes to motivating others to donate blood, there’s no stopping him.

May’s “ultimate target” is 100 donations. “For now, I’m taking it one donation at a time, and 100 is a personal milestone I’d like to reach.”

May says there are thousands of prospective blood donors among City employees. “It’s a personal choice, but I encourage you to just try it once at least,” he urges.

Written by Brümilda Swartbooi