In loving memory of a legendary blood donor who saved lives, John W. Sheppard
Dr Nanda Regmi
When I became the first elected president of Blood Donors of America (BDA), a 501c3 nonprofit charity, I sought to bring together like-minded volunteers who could educate and encourage the next generation of blood volunteers. So far, I have not come across any other organization established with the sole mission of engaging the community through blood donation and health education—except BDA.
The genesis of BDA, in 2009, lies in its primary mission to raise awareness of blood donation and its relationship to a healthy lifestyle. It is important to note that one of the benefits of donating blood is free medical screening before donation. From the outset, the goal was to serve hospitals through blood donation while educating communities across America about blood donation and its relationship to donor health.
The BDA was originally largely made up of Nepalese Americans, who, with a short history in the United States, lacked a basic connection to American communities. Under such circumstances, it has been my dream to introduce the noble mission of BDA to American communities and to unite as many blood donors as possible to create more generous, more engaged and more informed communities. At our first convention in Dallas, Texas, in 2016, we adopted these mottos: “Assimilation into society through blood donation” and
“The whole world is one family.”
Johnny played an important role in bringing these slogans to fruition.
I first heard of John W. Sheppard by doing a Google search. I read the story of an amazing person who received the Guinness Record certificate for whole blood donations, at 315 pints of verified whole blood. I contacted Lee Health Blood Center in Fort Myers and with their help 6 months later I was able to contact Johnny. I asked him if he wanted to join BDA as an honorary member. On February 26, 2018, Johnny sent me a handwritten letter happily accepting. He was the main guest at the second BDA convention in Atlanta in 2018. Most recently, he was the special guest at the third BDA convention held in May 2021. Johnny was a true teacher, a good friend and mentor to the whole BDA family.
In our combined effort to raise awareness, BDA generated a documentary in his name “Johnny with BDA” in 2019 (available at: http://blooddonorsofamerica.org/). Johnny knew the BDA family intimately and was a member to look up to. He introduced the BDA and Nepalese blood donors to the wider American community through his News-Press article in 2018: “A memorable blood donation experience for me.” Johnny also selflessly participated in the BDA Memorial Trust Fund Project: “BDA-Ira memorial Scholarship Trust” established in Nepal in 2021 to honor Mrs. Ira Acharya, life member of BDA, who died aged 59 in 2019 in her home from Dallas.
The BDA family, supporters are deeply saddened by the passing of Johnny, a great icon, blood donor and most importantly a close friend at the age of 89 on February 4, 2022. At this difficult time, I wish his soul died a celestial peace. We also offer our deepest condolences and deepest sympathy to the members of Johnny’s bereaved family.
To honor his legacy of selfless service, the BDA family held a national synchronized blood donation event last month to celebrate the life of a titan with at least 27 confirmed donors from Texas, Colorado and Ohio. Johnny is no longer with us, however, his 378 pints of whole blood donations and his endless lessons to the next generation of donors will keep his memory alive. I invite you to help us do this.
Long live Johnny,
Dr. Nanda Regmi, Past President and Chief Advisor, BDA.