EATON, Ohio – The Eaton First Church of God began the New Year with a new way of widening the lifesaving “ripple effect” of its “Vincent Strong” blood drives in memory of Vincent Jones. The Jan. 9 blood drive was the first to collect COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma and included the first CCP donation by blood drive organizer and COVID survivor Mindy Sue Jones-Vannatter.
“I believe in the ripple effect of paying it forward,” Mindy told WDTN-TV. “A lot of people blessed my family, blood donors and others. I want to do everything I can to pay that forward. And when you help someone, they eventually will help someone else.”
The First Church of God blood drive totaled 61 donors for 126% of collection goal. Mindy was one of four convalescent plasma donors and Vincent’s brother Craig Jones, an Eaton Police officer, was one of three platelet donors.
Mindy has made “the ripple effect” her credo since organizing the first memorial blood drive soon after losing her husband Vincent to leukemia in 2016. She considers it a testimony to the blood donations that helped Vincent live long enough to see the birth of his son Jeremiah.
“Today I gave blood,” Mindy posted on her Facebook page. “Today was such a humbling day. I got to honor the memory of my late husband Vincent and his fight against leukemia. I got to teach my two young sons the importance of helping others!
“I can tell you from several personal family experiences blood donation truly saves lives!”
Mindy lost her father to COVID-19 in November. He received transfusions, including convalescent plasma during his treatment. A month later, Mindy tested positive. Once recovered, she was determined to donate convalescent plasma knowing it contains COVID-19 antibodies.
“So today I helped others by giving my plasma to try to give those battling this virus with severe symptoms a better fighting chance,” she said. “If I can help another family not have to experience the loss that my family did in November, then it’s one of the greatest things I can do to make this world a better place!”
The 5th annual Vincent Jones Memorial on June 27, 2020 was her first experience organizing a blood drive during the pandemic. Despite coronavirus restrictions, it totaled 81 donors and for the first time included platelet and double red cell donations.
The summer Vincent Strong blood drives have helped Community Blood Center maintain the blood supply during the challenging July 4th holiday period. The January blood drives now follow the Christmas and New Year’s holidays and are part of Blood Donor Awareness Month.
“We had an amazing turnout for our January blood drive,” she said, which doubled its usual number of donors. “I was definitely happy with the turn out and success of the drive in a time when we need blood donation so much!
Mindy plans to continued donating convalescent plasma as long as she remains eligible.
“My personal goal is, as always, to continue that ripple effect of helping others,” she said. “When you help someone, he or she helps someone else and the ripple of kindness continues on indefinitely. In the midst of all that is going on in the world right now I would say a little bit of kindness and putting others first is just what we need!”