2008-12-04 / News

Jamestown man celebrates his 300th blood donation

By Sam Bari

When Jim McLoughlin arrived at the Rhode Island Blood Center on Tuesday afternoon, he was treated with the status of a rock star. The 85-year-old Jamestown man came in to give his 300th blood donation and the employees wanted him to know how much his donations are appreciated.

"I'm just an ordinary man," McLoughlin said. "Giving blood is just part of my routine. I do it because it can be done. I like to help people. It's the right thing to do."

McLoughlin greeted each Blood Center employee by name as he was escorted to the rest area where donors are given refreshments after giving blood. There, he was presented with a cake that had his picture in the center surrounded by an inscription: "An ordinary life? Not to the hundreds of lives that Jim McLoughlin has saved. Congratulations on your 300th donation."

This was McLoughlin's 300th donation at the RI Blood Center's Aquidnick Island facility where he has donated a pint every two weeks since 1995 as an apheresis blood donor. Prior to that, he was a whole blood donor, which didn't allow him to donate as often.

According to McLoughlin, he has been donating blood since the early 1960s. However, Thelma, his wife of 58 years, thinks it has been longer. "He's been giving blood since I've known him, so it has to be longer than that," she said. "We used to give together." Due to illness, Thelma was forced to stop donating.

McLoughlin said he started giving blood regularly after responding to a Warwick American Legion's plea for donors " . . . some fifty years or so ago. I don't remember exactly how long ago it was," he said.

He also said, "Everybody should do it. You don't feel anything. It has to be doing some good for people. It's always good to help somebody somewhere."

McLoughlin might think he is an ordinary man, but people who have known him say that he has led an extraordinary life. After retiring from the automobile business, he set a schedule for himself that would exhaust most people at any age.

He delivers for Meals on Wheels, helps to organize two blood drives in Jamestown every year, and drove an ambulance for the EMS for years. He still helps at the EMS and does other volunteer work when asked.

McLoughlin is a veteran of World War II and the Korean War. He served as a medic and learned firsthand the importance of blood donations.

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