Jim Couture has been a regular blood donor since high school, thanks to the example set by his father, Bernie Couture.
“I like to think that everytime I give, I’m giving in honor of my dad,” said Couture. “ He’s been gone for 12 years.”
Now 49, Couture has switched to donating platelets, a process in which the blood is passed through a machine and immediately returned to the donor.
“Platelets are gold for us,” said Alicia Reed, Special Donations Recruiter for Shepeard Community Blood Center. “Platelets are used for those with severe burns or cancer, or those who have had any type of organ transplant.”
“Platelets only have a five-day shelf life, so there is a constant need for donors,” explained Reed. “This week, somebody in one of our hospitals will have (Couture’s) donation.”
For Couture, the pros far outweigh the cons when deciding whether to take the time to make the platelet donations.
“If this little hour and a half is going to make a difference for a burn victim, why can’t I sit my fanny down and watch TV here instead of at home on my day off,” said Couture. “You have to have your core values and you have to have your principles.”
As manager of the Zax-by’s in Thomson, Couture gives his assistant managers first choice for days off each week and he works his schedule around theirs. That means sometimes having to try to schedule his donations on short notice. The staff at Shepeard Community Blood Center is always willing to work with him.
“Whatever we can do to make it more comfortable for him, that’s what we are going to do,” said Reed. “People like Mr. Couture are invaluable to us. Without people like him we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.”
Couture’s O positive blood type is especially valuable because it can be used for people with all other blood types.
“The average person who has leukemia will go through 30-50 transfusions,” said Reed. “If I’m in the hospital and I’m undergoing chemo I may get two transfusions of platelets every time I get chemo.”
Couture typically donates a triple, meaning each donation could save three lives. By that standard, Couture has saved 27 lives in the past two years.
“I’ll help anybody who needs help,” said Couture. “I try to do my share of helping people when they need it, most of the time without anybody knowing it.”
Couture has also helped his community in other ways. He has volunteered as an ambassador for the chambers of commerce in North Augusta and Columbia County. He has been teaching Bible study classes to second- and third-grade boys every Wednesday for about five years at The Sanctuary Church in Evans. A former supervisor once teased him about being a Boy Scout, because he is always trying to do the right thing. He didn’t know Couture really was a former Eagle Scout.
“Helping people is our responsibility,” states Couture. “You just do what you need to do when you need to do it.”