National Blood Donor Month: Blood donation is no laughing matter for comedian Mary Frances Connelly

By Jackie Faiman

Mary Frances Connelly. Submitted photo.

Mary Frances Connelly is a mother, a grandmother and a native Philadelphian. She is a standup comedian who has been refining and earning a living from her act for 37 years. She first got into standup to support herself and her daughter, though she admits that it sounds crazy to enter show business for the money. She figured out she was funny early on when she had the boys on her bus ride to school laughing so hard they cried.

“I could make girls laugh, but it’s rare that a female comic can make men laugh.”

She is also a regular blood donor for the Red Cross.

She remembers the event that moved her to become a donor. It was 1982 and she had just given birth to her daughter. During the difficult delivery, she received two units of blood which, she says, saved her life. Now she wants to pay forward the gratitude she felt for that gift.

She has her regular blood donation down to a science. She schedules it for a Friday evening. After a meal at a local diner, she visits a donation site at a church in Downingtown. Afterward she stops at her daughter’s home to care for her grandson.

“He wants to know all about that red bandage.”

And she plans to keep donating for as long as she can.

“You just feel so good when you’re doing it, and you know that you’re making a difference in someone else’s life.”

Like many donors, Mary Frances uses and loves the Red Cross Blood Donor App.

“The App keeps you apprised of your donation. It tells you when they are vetting it and which hospital it goes to. My first one last year went to CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia). I told my grandson…and he got very excited knowing that my blood was helping little kids.”

When asked why she gravitated to the Red Cross, Mary Frances points out that the organization steps in at a critical point in peoples’ lives, whether providing a blood donation or relief after a flood or a hurricane.

“They let you know that there will be a new kind of normal. When you see the Red Cross, you know that things are going to be OK.”

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