“I never thought I’d hit 100 gallons, but it just adds up.”
Jim Archer donates for the cookies.
“I have to give a shout out to Cookie Cart,” he said, having already eaten two or three. “Those are the best cookies in the world.”
Jim relaxed in the Memorial Blood Centers canteen after a recent donation. He had recently joined an exclusive sort of club: in May of 2023, he donated his 100th gallon of platelets.
“After awhile I stopped getting the gallon pins,” he said with a chuckle.
Jim’s father was a World War II veteran who saw blood donation take off in the 1940s. “Back then, people thought of it as a civic duty. They gave because it kept the home front strong.” Jim started donating in the 1970s when MBC’s headquarters was located on Park Avenue in Minneapolis .
“I started out with whole blood, and later saw someone donating platelets. I thought that looked pretty cool, so I switched,” he said. “It’s easy for it to add up when you’re donating platelets. You can come in every 2 weeks. With whole blood you can only donate every 56 days.”
Jim’s first realization that his donated blood was adding up came at the 55-gallon mark. “I just pictured a 55-gallon drum and realized that’s how much I’ve donated.”
“I never really thought I’d hit 100 gallons, but it just adds up.”
Now that Jim’s retired, he can donate on his own schedule.
“I used to set my alarm and come in for 7:00 a.m. appointments. Now that I’m retired, I don’t like to set my alarm if I don’t have to.”
“Now my preference is to give platelets, hit up my favorite buffet, and take a 3-hour nap.”
Things were a little different when Jim first started donating. “Back then, you donated platelets out of both arms. I used to see donors ask a nurse to scratch their nose for them. Now the technology’s changed, so you only need to use one arm.” When Jim talks to people about donating blood, he realizes that some old-time impressions have a habit of sticking around. “There’s all these misconceptions about donating blood. I think that’s what keeps a lot of people away. When I talk to someone about donating blood, I tell them it’s just so easy. You can always find some time to do it. You don’t have to give every 2 weeks like me; you can give whenever you can.”
“It’s also so important for younger people to start donating blood,” he continued. “All the people I see giving platelets are my age. We need more young donors.”
He often urges his friends and family to give—and sometimes, he makes headway.
“I got my sister-in-law to start donating. Now she gives whole blood. She lives over by one of the Cookie Cart locations, so sometimes I tell her to stop and pick me up a couple.”
Although Jim doesn’t have pins to commemorate all 100 gallons of his donated blood, he did receive a special gift in honor of his major milestone.
“The staff made me a gorgeous blown-glass statue. It’s really a piece of art.” After a moment, he added: “And I also got my 100-gallon pin.”
Before Jim finished his cookies and headed out the door, he had his next appointment on the books.
“It’s just such an important thing to do.”
Platelets are a critical component of saving lives. With a shelf life of just 7 days, platelets help blood clot and are used by cancer patients, burn victims, newborn babies, and more. It’s thanks to platelet donors like Jim that Memorial Blood Centers has been saving lives since 1948.