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25 gallons of “good Italian blood“ Long time blood donor honored at opening of LifeSouth Spring Hill location

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At 91, Florence D’Urso of Spring Hill has, over her lifetime, donated 25 gallons of what she describes as “good Italian blood.” Thirty-five years ago, D’Urso was the inaugural donor at the LifeSouth Community Blood Centers location opening in Brooksville. And on Feb. 15, 2023, 227 donations later, D’Urso was honored at the opening of the LifeSouth location in Spring Hill, at 4377 Commercial Way at Lakewood Plaza shopping center.

On this day, D’Urso received a bouquet of orchids and a certificate of appreciation from LifeSouth.

“Your spirit is so appreciated,” said Marisa Pacchiarotti, LifeSouth media and outreach contact for Hernando County and surrounding areas, and District Community Development Coordinator from LifeSouth Community Blood Centers. “You were the first donor at LifeSouth’s Brooksville location and are here for the opening of our Spring Hill center. It’s a wonderful achievement.”
D’Urso’s inaugural blood donation was unplanned and impromptu, made in 1987. “I was shopping, saw a Hernando Community Blood Bank, and dropped in to donate a pint of blood,” she explained.

D’Urso now gives blood once about every 53 days. “If the blood wasn’t there, people would be in trouble,” she reasoned. “If more people gave a little more, we’d all be better off.”
D’Urso was pleased to be among the first to visit LifeSouth’s new location, a storefront, salon-style facility containing three blood donation chairs, two platelet donation chairs in its donation area, a reception area, and a back room storage area. “With this new location, we’re trying to fill a need,” said Pacchiarotti. “Since we serve all of Hernando County, we thought that we needed another center to supplement the need.”

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D’Urso plans to continue giving at both LifeSouth locations. “Whatever part of town I’m in,” she declared. “That’s the location I’ll choose.”

LifeSouth has become a part of D’Urso’s life. “I’ve gotten every donor T-shirt they have,” she chuckled, noting that she buried her husband Ralph in one of these shirts. “I love all of the thank you gifts they give, and especially the homemade cookies that Gabriella (LifeSouth receptionist Gabriella Mazza) brings to the centers.”

Yet D’Urso’s primary motivation behind her donations remains her desire to give. She completed 30,000 hours of volunteer service at Oak Hill Hospital and, at age 91, remains active as a Catholic church volunteer.

“When someone asks Florence to give,” said Renee Carlotta, a longtime friend who accompanied D’Urso to the opening of LifeSouth Spring Hill. “She doesn’t know how to say no.”
The new LifeSouth Spring Hill location is open from 9 am to 6 pm, Wednesday through Saturday. “To people reluctant to give blood, I have a message for you,” said D’Urso. “It doesn’t hurt. And you could save a life.”

Blood donation. Photo courtesy of LifeSouth.

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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