On their 1964 honeymoon, Paul Adler and his bride, Clarise, went to Portuguese East Africa from Johannesburg, South Africa, where they met and courted. On that trip, “there was the usual fighting between two tribes,” says Adler. “I had a bit of a flu and went to the hospital. I had to
step over dead bodies.
That’s Africa. Nothing’s changed but it made an impression on me.”
Adler, now 71, knew that donating blood saves lives, and that’s what he set out do. During the past 48 years he has made 280 blood donations, equaling 35 gallons, to the International Red Cross.
Their families had settled in Africa as a refuge — Clarise’s family fleeing Russian pogroms in the 1920s, Adler’s family escaping from the Gestapo in Poland in 1939 — but in 1992, they fled unrest again, emigrating from South Africa to Honolulu, Hawaii. Adler had to wait three years
before being able to donate blood again. Although the couple hadn’t lived in an area of South Africa that had malaria, the U.S. Health Department required the gap.
They moved to Tucson, where one of their daughters lives, in 2005. Adler’s career was in electrical engineering instrumentation. Through it all, he kept giving blood.
There’s another reason why Adler keeps giving blood. “My family is of German origin,” he told the AJP. “My late father was in a concentration camp. One thing that stuck in my mind is that anyone going back generations with Jewish blood would have been killed by the Nazis. Anyone who receives Jewish blood doesn’t care where it came from.”
Adler gives a pint of blood every two months to the Red Cross, the maximum they allow. The Guinness Book of World Records cites 40 gallons as the most donated by one individual, notes Adler. “If I get the Guinness world record, so what?” It’s saving lives that matters.