PIQUA — Over the course the approximately 40 years, Piqua resident Jim Hemmert has managed to donate nearly 22 gallons of blood and continues to encourage others to adopt a similar dedication to donating.
“I’m a giving person. I volunteer, I donate time all the time,” Hemmert said.
He has 174 lifetime blood donations, which is the equivalent of giving nearly 22 gallons. Hemmert’s donations are close behind those of Troy resident Leo Grilliot, who has reached 177 donations and surpassed 22 gallons.
Hemmert explained that donating blood quickly became a habit after beginning in the early 1970s, and the fact that his blood donations could help save a life or help someone heal after an accident contributed greatly to his dedication.
“One of the things that really, really excites me is, I was probably around the 15-16 gallon donation mark when one of the nurses told me that type blood I have can be used for transfusions for babies born … that are drug-addicted,” Hemmert said. “They can get an immediate transfusion.”
Hemmert is a universal blood donor, as he has Type O negative blood, meaning all patients can receive his blood type.
He continues to give blood every eight weeks, one pint at a time. One pint has the potential to help three different people, so theoretically, Hemmert’s donations had the potential of impacting over 500 people.
“It’s a giving thing. You can give life,” Hemmert said. “You can get high on life, you can get high on drugs, or you can get high on alcohol. When I give, I get high on life. I have done something good for somebody else. And I know it’s impossible, but when I leave the blood donation place, I’m about six inches off the ground because I did something good for somebody.”
Throughout his history of giving blood, Hemmert has also encouraged others to donate as well. Hemmert said that donating blood can also be beneficial to the donor, as the donor undergoes a mini-physical examination at the time of the donation.
“They test your blood. They see if you got enough iron in your blood. They check your temperature. They check your pulse,” Hemmert said. “So it’s a little mini-physical that you get every eight weeks.”
The donor also learns what type of blood he or she is, which is knowledge that he or she may need to know immediately after an accident.
Hemmert also recalled a time when he was inspired by someone else’s dedication to giving blood on a regular basis, which was in 1972, when he presented the mayor of Piqua Jack Wilson with an award from the American Red Cross for donating 10 gallons of blood during a Kiwanis meeting.
“I presented his 10-gallon pin,” Hemmert said. “And me being a real young rookie in front of this group of people and I’m making this presentation, I was a little nervous, so I did a little bit of homework. And I do recall making the statement that 10 gallons is an awful lot of blood, but he didn’t do it yesterday, last week, last month — it was a number of years.”
It was Wilson’s continued dedication that stuck with Hemmert.
“That was very inspiring to me,” Hemmert said.
Hemmert has no end goal amount in mind, just the hope that his donations will never have to end.
“I just want to give as long as I’m healthy enough to give,” Hemmert said.
While the feat of donating nearly 22 gallons of blood may be an exemplary example of dedication to this cause, Hemmert maintains that he is just one of a whole community with a giving spirit.
“Piqua is a giving community, and it shows up even at the blood banks,” Hemmert said. “They not only donate time and money, they donate blood.”
Reach Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336