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South Florida man has saved countless lives by frequently donating blood, platelets

South Florida man saves countless lives through frequent blood donations
South Florida man saves countless lives through frequent blood donations 03:41

MIAMI - Each year, an estimated 6.8 million people in the U.S. donate blood. That may sound like a lot, but it's only a small fraction of the eligible population.

We met one South Florida donor whose giving has put him in the Hall of Fame. He's hoping to inspire others to roll up their sleeves, too.

John Jenkins is a retired educator who knows all too well how one person can make a big impact.

"I touched a lot of students' lives and to this day students keep calling me and letting me know how much what an influence I had on their lives. And I don't know what I did to do that," Jenkins said. "But I just did what I enjoyed doing which was helping to motivate and going to work every day seeing a change in lives taking place."

He's not just changing lives, he's saving them and it goes beyond the classroom. Jenkins has saved countless lives by frequently donating blood and platelets.

"I have donated 101 gallons of blood thus far, and hopefully within the next two to three weeks, I'll be back on the donating trail again," Jenkins said.

Now in his 80s, Jenkins said he started donating at a school blood drive in 1975, and he's been consistent ever since. According to OneBlood, donors can give whole blood every 56 days, up to six times a year. You can donate platelets every seven days, up to 24 times annually.

Jenkins said he's never really kept track.

"Numbers don't mean nothing to me," he said. "I just want to donate and know that I am making a difference in somebody's life. Somebody is going to be using those blood platelets within a week or two weeks they are going and is helping save somebody's life."

Somebody like Lia Ottinot, a sickle cell patient who has needed transfusions in the past as part of her care.

"It is a blessing to have people donate blood," Ottinot said. "And it is important to donate blood if you can. You're not just helping sickle cell patients. You can help a bunch of others."

It all hit home for Jenkins when his own daughter needed a blood transfusion in 2019.

In all, he's donated well over 500 times and was inducted into the OneBlood Donation Hall of Fame in 2020. Jenkins said he doesn't consider himself a hero, but he'd like to be seen as a role model.

"I just see myself as an individual who has the ability to help," he said. "I have the type of blood that's universal. And if I think it can be used and willing to and willing to donate. So no, I don't see myself as a hero at all. I just see myself as a common individual who is willing to help others."

If you're considering donating, you should know the entire process will take about an hour. The actual donation lasts roughly 10 minutes. Jenkins says it's pretty painless and he appreciates the free gifts and treats he receives each time he gives.

CBS News Miami is teaming up with HCA Florida Healthcare and OneBlood to help save lives.

There will be two blood drives on Thursday, February 29th, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

One will be held at HCA Florida Westside Hospital, at 8201 W Broward Boulevard in Plantation. The other will be at HCA Florida Aventura Hospital, at 20900 Biscayne Boulevard.

All donors will receive a OneBlood long-sleeved T-shirt, a $20 eGift card, and a wellness checkup. 

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