The Big Red Bus can be seen throughout the FishHawk community for easy access to donating.

By Pauline Derry

After serving his country, retired Marine John-Michael Elms is continuing to do good by donating blood and platelets through the blood donation center OneBlood.

OneBlood is a nonprofit community asset responsible for providing safe, available and affordable blood to more than 200 hospital partners and their patients.

Since childhood, Elms has been around those who donate regularly, such as his dad, a first responder. Growing up seeing his dad help his community along with being a Boy Scout and a lifeguard inspired him to start donating at the young age of 16.

Now, retired from the Marines, Elms is donating to cope with his experiences from the war.

“Any day you save a life is better than a day you don’t,” he said, referring to the statistic that one pint of blood can save up to three lives.

He goes in to donate a triple every two weeks, meaning he is able to donate three times the number of platelets than the normal person, along with donating blood every eight weeks.

Elms goes a step further than just donating, however; he also hosts blood drives in the FishHawk area. Places like the Starling Club and Bevis Elementary have each been a host to these drives in the past.

The next drive he is putting on is on Saturday, August 28 at the Osprey Community Center from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

“It’s not terribly painful. It’s a small needlestick. You get free cookies, juice, a T-shirt and sometimes even a gift card,” Elms said.

Places nearby such as Moffitt Cancer Center, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Tampa General are always in need of platelets and blood. Because of this, Elms encourages all people who are in the area and eligible to donate.

The blood products are used for a wide range of illnesses, such as sickle cell disease and hemophilia, and helps COVID-19, cancer and trauma patients.

Not only does donating help people locally, but worldwide as well. OneBlood is certified to send its blood out of the United States to countries that need blood because of natural disasters.

For more information on how and where to donate along with how to host a drive yourself, visit

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