07/05/07 — Volunteer urges others to give blood at drives

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Volunteer urges others to give blood at drives

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on July 5, 2007 1:45 PM

Hundreds of people have a little bit of Jean Johnson in them.

Blood that used to run through her veins is now in theirs -- thanks to the 17-plus gallons she has donated over the past 37 years.

Known around the Wayne County Red Cross as a "secret weapon" and a "dedicated donor," Mrs. Johnson said she never misses an opportunity to touch a life -- and she is urging others to follow her lead.

"People are traveling and elective surgeries are higher in the summer because people have more time then," the 73-year-old said. "And you still have emergencies. More accidents happen when more people are on the roads."

So every 56 days, the Wayne County woman rolls up her sleeves.

"Each time, you have a chance to save three lives," she said. "I look on it as a good habit."

Officials at the Red Cross said they need more people like Mrs. Johnson to fill the increasing demand for blood in the county.

Samia Garner, the organization's blood services director, said saving a life is often a pin-prick away.

"Each pint, which we call a unit, touches up to three lives," she said. "People don't usually need the whole blood, they need the components. Red cells are what we use the most."

At three lives per pint, she said Mrs. Johnson has likely touched more than 400 strangers.

"She's my secret weapon," Ms. Garner said. "She is an extremely dedicated blood donor and volunteer."

But Mrs. Johnson will tell you serving her community is just something she has always done.

She has been in Wayne for more than 40 years now, and attributes her love of community to her father, George.

"If the neighbors needed anything, they would come see George," Mrs. Johnson said. "It kind of ticked my mom off because she didn't want to share him. He was a good man."

Ms. Garner said Mrs. Johnson is setting the right example.

And she hopes people follow it, especially during the summer months when schools are out and blood drives are held less frequently.

Mrs. Johnson is certain that once they do, the feeling that comes with helping others will bring them back again and again -- at least she hopes so, anyway.

"I look on it as a good habit," she said. "At the blood drives, you see the same people a lot. It's like, 'Oh well, it's that time again.'"

Those who wish to donate blood are asked to make an appointment by calling 735-7201.