Meet Jim and Mike Long; two amazing superheroes! When it comes time to saving local lives and their commitment to blood and platelet donation, this father-and-son duo goes above and beyond for local patients.
What started out as bi-monthly whole blood donations through Community Blood Center of the Carolinas (CBCC) has morphed into two loyal platelet donor superheroes who have given a combined 456 platelet donations through CBCC over the past 10 years. Platelets are vital to patients who are fighting cancer, other diseases and traumatic injuries as they form clots to help stop bleeding.
We wanted to see these two superheroes in action and had a chance to catch up with Mike (son) and Jim (father) in person during their recent platelet donation at the Isabella Santos Center in Ballantyne.
When did you start donating platelets?
Mike: I started donating whole blood in 2007 and then started donating platelets in 2008
Jim: I started donating whole blood in 2005 and then platelets in 2009
How many donations have each of you made?
Mike: 230 platelet donations as of March 13, 2019
Jim: 226 platelet donations as of March 13, 2019
For the past two years, Mike and Jim have been holding a friendly platelet donation competition. “He [Jim] has a slight advantage because he’s retired,” jokes Mike who has continually held the lead. Because Mike travels a lot for work, it’s more challenging for them to donate at the same time. Their goal is to give their 250th donation together.
How did you get involved in donating?
Mike: My granny had open-heart surgery so my family banked blood for her. I was only 15 years old and was too young to donate blood. So I started donating when I was eligible at age 16. I was a plasma donor in college so I was familiar with the donation process when I got involved in donating through CBCC.
Jim: I got involved through my job at Frye Electronics, which held a CBCC community blood drive every other month before the company sold. I donated whole blood at these drives and then CBCC asked me to donate platelets; I have been a CBCC platelet donor ever since. I have been made aware of all the need for platelets for cancer treatment, etc. and realized that donating is one of the best things I can do.
“Long” time Dedication
When it comes time to platelet donation, Mike has the full support of his company – Sterigenics, which sterilizes surgical kits for hospitals. Mike is such a dedicated platelet donor with CBCC that he arranges his travel schedule so he can still donate platelets every two weeks in between trips. He also won’t do business travel to places with malaria or other areas that could get him deferred from donating.
Adds Jim, “I am so glad that Mike and I can share in this donation experience together as we are both dedicated to this. It’s something we can both do to help someone in need and to give back to the community.”
The passion for donating extends to other Long family members. In addition to Mike’s sister being a donor, all three of his kids started donating whole blood at their high school drives and have donated platelets. His son and nephew each marked their first blood donation on their 16th birthday.
The Impact of the Isabella Santos Center
Last fall, the Isabella Santos Foundation and CBCC teamed up to open the Isabella Santos Center in Ballantyne to offer blood and platelet donation for donors in South Charlotte and down into South Carolina. This is where Mike and Jim regularly donate platelets.
Mike: The Isabella Santos Center is an example of hard work and the support of community coming together to make it happen.
Jim: I love the convenience of the Isabella Santos Center. Knowing what the Isabella Santos Foundation is doing is great; this center is another step to get more donors.
For those who haven’t donated blood or are nervous to do so, here is some advice from Jim:
“You have to at least try to donate,” said Jim. “Start with whole blood first then try donating platelets. Donating is simple and safe. It’s one way you can save a life without money.”