By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
VERONA – By his conservative estimate, Jimmy Jones has saved more than 800 lives.
He’s donated blood 408 times over the past 40 years or so.
“They say you save a minimum of two lives, maybe more, each time,” the 64-year-old said. “Multiply all those donations by two and that makes me feel good. I’ve never had a lot of money to give away, but I can give this.”
Jones has given gallons and gallons of the stuff. Fifty-one gallons, to be exact.
“I don’t miss it,” he said. “You make more, right?”
He first gave blood during the late 1960s when he was in the Air Force. The military told him he was O positive, and he believed that until the mid-1970s, when a co-worker was going in for surgery.
“I came in here the first time, and they said, ‘Nope, you’re O negative,’” he said. “The U.S. government was wrong even back then.”
During that donation for his co-worker, he learned about an insurance program. If he gave once a year, he wouldn’t have to pay for any blood he might need during a potential surgery.
“That sounded like a good deal to me,” Jones said.
Eventually, he started giving twice year, then learned that, if he wanted, he could give every eight weeks.
“I said, ‘Why not?’” he said.
Now, he gives platelets every two weeks. After the blood’s drawn, it’s run through a centrifuge to separate out the platelets. He gets his plasma and red blood cells back.
“Radiation kills all the platelets in cancer patients, especially with leukemia,” he said. “Someone with hemophilia, they don’t produce enough platelets, so their blood is thin. If they get a slight cut, they could bleed to death.”
In addition to saving lives of people he’ll never meet, Jones also helps out the staff at United Blood Services in Tupelo.
“When they get a new one in and they want to train them, they go to me first,” he said, then lifted his left arm. “Apparently, this vein is broad and easy to find.”
Jones has gotten jackets, shirts and football tickets as “thank you’s” for donating. He couldn’t attend the football game, but his son-in-law got to go.
He’s never had to cash in that insurance policy, but he’s had other health issues. He was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease a few years ago.
Breathing doesn’t come easily, and it can take an act of will to walk from the parking lot to the front door of United Blood Services.
“I do it because it’s fulfilling. You feel good after you do it,” he said. “If you don’t have money but you want to give, try this.
“If it’s not for you, that’s OK. But if you can, it’s a very rewarding thing. Everybody has something they can give.”
TODAY: 3 to 7:30 p.m., Baldwyn Elementary
WEDNESDAY: 3 to 8 p.m., Bethlehem
United Methodist Church Choir Room,
New Albany; 3 to 8 p.m., Farmington
Baptist Church Gym, Corinth; 3:30 to 8
p.m., New Albany First United Methodist
Church Fellowship Hall, New Albany.
THURSDAY: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Building 2,
Sunshine Homes, Red Bay, Ala.; noon to
6 p.m., Baptist Memorial Hospital Education
Room, New Albany; 1 to 5 p.m.,
Natchez Trace Electric Power Association,
FRIDAY: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Baptist Memorial
Hospital-North Mississippi, Oxford.
CALL UNITED BLOOD SERVICES at (662)
842-8871 for information.