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Sep 22, 2010 10:57 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hampton Bays man makes 300th blood donation

Sep 22, 2010 10:57 AM

When Rey Nimons learned that his co-worker’s 
3-year-old daughter was suffering from leukemia and in need of blood platelets to 
battle the illness, he said he 
did not think twice about donating his blood to the gravely ill young girl.

Mr. Nimons, 63, who has lived in Hampton Bays for 34 years, said he drove an hour to Stony Brook University Medical Center and donated blood platelets—cells that are essential to clotting—for the young girl. He went back a month later and donated a second time.

“I had met her at Christmas parties and company picnics,” said Mr. Nimons about the girl whom he donated to in 1995 while he was working at a company in Riverhead. The young girl, whose name he could not recall, went into remission but ultimately lost her battle with cancer several years later, according to Mr. Nimons.

That sad experience, however, has not stopped Mr. Nimons from rolling up his sleeve. In fact, on August 9, he made his 300th donation to the Stony Brook blood bank—a record for the facility. In late August, he made his 301st donation and recently marked his 15th year of donating platelets to those battling cancer and leukemia, most of whom he has never met.

“He’s angelic,” said Dr. Dennis Galanakis, the medical director of the blood bank. “We have 
a dedicated group of donors, [and] he is the leader. He is 
extremely exemplary.”

Donating blood platelets is different from donating blood, and the process of separating the platelets from blood is completed by a machine called a cell 
separator. The device takes blood from a donor, removes the 
platelets, and then returns the blood to the donor. The Stony Brook facility can accept up to 30 such donations a day, according to Dr. Galanakis.

Mr. Nimons, who says he donates platelets every other Monday throughout the year, said the process does not drain him, explaining that he can usually continue his normal daily routine. He said he usually stops by the center at around 7:30 a.m. when he is greeted by the familiar faces of nurses and doctors there, many of whom he has known for the past decade and a half.

“I know all the nurses, fill out the paperwork and there is nobody else there,” said 
Mr. Nimons about his biweekly routine. “I always bring in 
pictures of my family. We talk about our families and ask how everyone is doing.”

Mr. Nimons and his wife, Laura, have two daughters: Denise Tadduni, 37, who now lives in Shelton, Connecticut, and Karen Schmidt, 34, who still resides in the hamlet. The couple also has four grandchildren: Joseph, 6, Lily, 3, Ava, 2, and Cameron, 1.

A self-described “beach bum,” Mr. Nimons says he loves Ponquogue Beach and also enjoys biking 10 miles a day in the Red Creek area of Hampton Bays.

“I always stop traffic to help turtles cross the road,” said Mr. Nimons, who now works at Nature’s Bounty, a vitamin store in Bohemia. “All the cars are always beeping at me.”

When he isn’t body surfing or lounging at the beach, Mr. Nimons can usually be found traveling to Stony Brook. 
Nurse Virginia Greer, a 12-year veteran of the medical center and whom Mr. Nimons refers to as “Ginny,” is usually at the blood bank on Mondays when he comes in to donate.

“He is a very generous person,” Ms. Greer said. “He started before me. He makes sure he can come every minute he can.”

Mr. Nimons said he does not mind making the donations because he enjoys helping those who are battling illnesses. Each donation takes about 57 minutes and Mr. Nimons, who has Type O Positive blood, said he usually makes double donations—meaning that he gives two units of platelets every other week. Since his blood type is the most common, according to the American Red Cross, Mr. Nimons’s platelets can be used by many patients.

Mr. Nimons said he has never met most of the people he has helped. But that changed at a recent pool party when he ran into the sister of a friend who suffers from leukemia. The woman, 
who did not know what he looked like, is now in remission thanks, in part, to Mr. Nimons’s platelet donation.

“I went over to her and said ‘You’re my sister,’” said Mr. Nimons, noting that, at first, the woman looked at him as if he was crazy. “‘You have my platelets don’t you?’” he added, prompting the woman to thank him incessantly for his generosity.

About 4,000 people donate each year to the Stony Brook University Medical Center blood bank, according to Dr. Galanakis. The platelets they collect are used for an estimated 20,000 transfusions each year for patients who are being treated at the hospital’s cancer and leukemia center. Donations are also used by other departments in the hospital, if needed.

The federal government limits the number of blood donations that any one person can give to 24 times a year. Mr. Nimons says he always tries to get as close to that number as possible.

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A real local hero! Thanks!
By Talbot77 (53), southampton on Sep 18, 10 11:04 AM
We should all be inspired by this man to give blood more often!
By METCOMedia (116), Hampton Bays on Sep 18, 10 7:17 PM
1 member liked this comment
BRAVO Mr. Nimons...you are an inspiration and as a fellow donor...I thank you for getting the word out. And just to let people know, I believe you can donate both blood & platelets in RH as well: http://www.nybloodcenter.org/donation-locations.do?sid0=2&sid1=45#suffolk
We need more people to be as dedicated as you Sir. Congratulations!
By trublnocknatmydr (35), East Hampton on Sep 22, 10 5:05 PM
my hat's off to you, sir!
By loading... (601), quiogue on Sep 27, 10 8:20 PM