JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - He drains his veins about as often as many of us fill our cars' gas tanks, and he's been doing it longer than most of us have been driving.
"Every other Thursday, I come to the blood bank," Carroll Sharp of Jacksonville began, "I started donating in the 1960s. It was probably ’65 or ’66."
Something he started while living and working in Kentucky. Carroll, a Louisville native, moved to the First Coast in 1976, to work for what is now CSX. Until that time his blood donations had primarily been traditional "whole" donations - the kind most people do in about a half-hour, one pint at a time. But he eventually shifted his focus to donating platelets, a procedure that can be done more often, yet requires a two-hour visit each time.
"The needles don’t bother me," he told First Coast News on Thursday, not long after being feted for reaching a lifetime donation milestone of 120 gallons. He's lost count of individual donations.
"I’ve never tried to figure it out. You could do the math. There’s eight pints to a gallon."
That would multiply to roughly 960 times sitting in a chair and being pierced by those needles he doesn't fear, though he estimates the real number to exceed a thousand.
Given the varying time requirements of the procedures, a sum total of his life that he's spent being drained is hard to peg.
But we just had to ask.
"It would probably be over six or seven hundred hours that I would have a needle in my arm for, you know, all the donations," Carroll shrugged.
Given the clockwork nature of Carroll's generosity, the 72-year-old retiree takes a broader view when asked his thoughts the current crisis in Houston, where Tropical Storm Harvey has generated a tremendous need for blood supplies.
"You find something that you can do," Carroll reasoned, "and do it the best you can."
Sharp's humility seems to fly in the face of the large banner just above where he's sitting, inside the OneBlood donation room at the Mayo Building in Jacksonville. In addition to his donations there, Carroll volunteers regularly at Mayo as a patient escort. His combined efforts have earned him blue-blood royalty status among OneBlood clinicians and officials.
"Mr. Carroll’s a very great guy," said clinician Sonya Loper, who has been drawing Carroll's blood for 17 years now. "Not only does he donate every two weeks and help out, he’s also a volunteer at Mayo."
OneBlood spokeswoman Susan Forbes also spoke of Carroll's lifetime legacy.
"People like him need to be celebrated because he has saved so many lives," Forbes said.
That's a number that can't possibly be measured precisely, but Carroll said he'd be happy to share his philanthropic status.
"Keep on going. You maybe catch me some day!"
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