14 Galloneer Talks the Talk, Walks and Walk

By Claire DeRoin

SIOUX CITY, IA – Whether he’s seated in a donor chair at the Sioux City Donor Center or behind the anchor desk at KTIV News 4, Al Joens is all about giving back to Siouxland. Sure, you can find him reading stories about local blood donation opportunities on air, but he just as often takes his turn rolling up a sleeve. Al has donated 14 gallons of blood and counting!

“It just seems like such an easy and important thing to do,” Al explained.

It was a KTIV team member that started Al’s blood donation habit. Fitting, since KTIV is the proud sponsor of Sioux City’s annual Blood Donor Day, the biggest blood drive in Sioux City. “I remember the very first time I donated,” Al said. “It was in 1990 or ‘91. I was a reporter at Channel 4. One of our reporters was going to the blood bank to do a story. The photographer going with her was a blood donor himself and he recruited me to come along and start donating. I did!”

The donation itself was standard, but another donor giving blood that day left a lasting impression. “There was a man in the chair across from me,” Al recalled. “He was at 11 gallons. I remember thinking, ‘Man, that’s a lot of blood! I could never live long enough to get to 11 gallons!’ And here I am, more than that now. It’s just amazing once you get going how you just keep doing it and it’s just part of the routine.”

Al’s closing in on the 15 gallon mark – a substantial feat. He has given enough blood to single-handedly save the lives of more than 330 people right here in Siouxland. His advice to folks who want to donate but might be intimidated is simply to relax.

“A lot of people say ‘Oh, I don’t like needles.’ Well, nobody likes needles!” Al said. “It’s really not painful. It’s really not a big deal. It’s easy – it’s much easier than you think it is. I encourage people. It’s important to give that gift of life and make that donation because someday you or someone you love might need it. We need to make the donation so that it’s there.”