KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s been called the gift of life for a good reason.

Large supplies of donated blood are used every day, and one Kansas City-area donor has given his share — and then some. 

Time and pints have added up for 72-year-old Terry Burns. When Burns donated blood on Wednesday, it was his 100th time sharing blood with others. Community Blood Center leaders said his donations total 12.5 gallons.

Burns donates to honor his sister, Marita Burns, who died in 1971 while battling aplastic anemia, a condition that affected her bone marrow. Marita Burns was only 17 years old.

Terry Burns said his sister wrote him a letter, wondering how the family might repay all the donated blood she’d used while she received treatment.

Terry Burns said he’s given off-and-on over the years, but when he reached 88 donations given, he was determined to hit the century mark.

“I hope it inspires someone to do that — to do something. The blood bank is always short of blood,” Terry Burns said.

Nowadays, Burns donates plasma every 28 days. He’s Type AB positive, which is in high demand. 

Chelsey Smith, a spokesperson for Community Blood Center, said Burns has been donating since the 1970s, and he and many other regular donors have strong personal stories.

“For some of them, maybe blood donation wasn’t the thing that saved their loved one, but it was the thing that gave them more time with their loved ones,” Smith said.

If Burns’ name rings familiar, it might be because he operated the popular Californos restaurant in Westport for more than 30 years.

Burns said his sister wouldn’t make a big deal of this accomplishment, but he knows better. Community Blood Center leaders said its supply sits at critical levels right now.

“People need it. There’s no synthetic blood, and all over the world, people need blood,” Burns said. “There’s a huge demand for blood, and only people can give it.”

Community Blood Center is at 40th and Main streets in Midtown Kansas City. Appointments for donations can be made at 877-468-6844.