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Volunteer Spotlight

Posted: June 24, 2014 - 11:11pm  |  Updated: June 27, 2014 - 8:53am
  JIM BLAYLOCK/STAFF
JIM BLAYLOCK/STAFF

 

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.”

 

 

SHEPEARD COMMUNITY BLOOD CENTER

Mission Statement: To collect, process and distribute blood and blood products.

Whole Blood – Healthy individuals who weigh at least 110 pounds and are 17 years old or older, or are 16 years old with written parental consent (permission form), can donate whole blood with Shepeard.

Platelets – Platelets are used to treat patients with cancer, severe burns, blood diseases and other conditions that require the body to clot blood. Platelets can be separated from a whole blood donation or collected as part of an automated procedure. Platelets promote clotting, and because of their short shelf-life of just five days, platelets are constantly needed. If your blood type is A+, your donation is most needed in the form of platelets, and you can donate every two weeks at our donation centers.

Plasma – Plasma is the watery fluid that transports cells. Plasma transfusions replace lost blood volume, help maintain blood pressure and assist in clotting. Plasma can be separated from a whole blood donation or collected as part of an automated procedure. Plasma can be frozen for up to a year and thawed for transfusion use or in the manufacturing of vaccines and other life-saving pharmaceutical products. If your blood type is AB, your donation of plasma, in conjunction with platelets, is most needed. You can donate plasma with Shepeard once a month.

 

BLOOD CENTER LOCATIONS AND HOURS

Shepeard Community Blood Center – Augusta

1533 Wrightsboro Road

(706) 737-4551

Monday – Friday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

Shepeard Community Blood Center – Evans

4329 Washington Road

(706) 854-1582

Monday – Friday: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Saturday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Sunday: Noon to 5 p.m.

 

Shepeard Community Blood Center – Aiken

(in the Hitchcock Plaza Shopping Center )

353 Fabian Drive

(803) 643-7996

Monday – Friday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Saturday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

 

Contact Alicia Reed at: (706) 854-1582 or areed@shepeardblood.org

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