FLORENCE, S.C. – Woody Jones’ 50-year streak of donating blood ended recently.
Jones wasn’t able to donate blood at the most recent American Red Cross blood drive at Central United Methodist Church on July 9 because he is undergoing chemotherapy treatments for non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
Some folks with lymphoma are not permitted to give blood because of the slight possibility that a person receiving the blood who has a compromised immune system might not be able to fight off and destroy the cancer cells in the transferred blood. There has never been a report of someone receiving cancer this way but the precaution remains in place.
Jones started donating blood regularly in 1969.
“I was encouraged by a friend and I got started and just kept going,” Jones said. “I had just gotten out of the Army.”
Jones was honored at the blood drive, however. Amy Brauner, executive director of the Eastern South Carolina American Red Cross, presented Jones with a plaque at the drive for his contributions.
Jones is credited by many at Central for being the lead force behind the development of the blood drives that happen every 56 days.
However, he was quick to say that he was one of the organizers.
“We used to have what we call a hit-and-miss blood drive where we have one occasionally,” Jones said. “About 12 years ago, we started doing one every 56 days. We do about six a year. So that way we capture all the people that donate regularly.”
Jones is a 35-year member of the church on the corner of Irby and Cheves Streets in Florence.
He said the drive was usually very successful. Usually, the American Red Cross collects 250-300 units of blood per year at the drives.
According to the American Red Cross, one donation of blood can save up to three lives.
“It’s an outreach of the church,” Jones said. “It’s part of the ministry of the church that’s so important. It touches so many people.”
Jones is also the namesake of Woody Jones Boulevard that runs from the intersection of David McLeod Boulevard (I-20 Business) and Beltline Road to the intersection between Swamp Fox Cinemas and the Florence Center.
He was the first chairman of the city-county civic center commission that governs the Florence Center.