Jim O’Connor is your typical strict class teacher who is big on discipline. He is stern, entertains no excuses and can be a little bit intimidating. He even looks the part, spine, straight, and close-cropped silver hair. “If you look at the clock,” said senior Michael Tinglof, who had O’Connor in his freshman year, “you’re on his bad list for the rest of the class.” But O’Connor stands by his ways saying, “You want to teach a class with 30 boys, you’ve got to be strict.”
If it wasn’t for his students Michael Tinglof and Pat McGoldrick signing up to recruit donors for a school blood drive, they would have never known their teacher had another side. When one afternoon, the boys decided to visit the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to find out where the donated blood went, they were treated like VIP’s because they associated with one. “He was like a celebrity there. Everybody knew his name,” Pat said of O’Connor. The hospital’s Blood Donor Centre had a large plaque that ranked the top donors, right at the very top was engraved O’Connor’s name. O’Connor comes into the hospital every month to donate platelets to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, patients who’d had open heart surgery or bone-marrow, or organ transplants. He gives his extremely valuable O- blood every other month without fail. To date O’Connor has donated 72 gallons of blood and platelets.
He would regularly give blood at the Red Cross drives, but it was when he came to Children’s and took a tour of the wards that the need for not only blood, but simple generosity was immense. Ever since that day he has spent the remainder of his time at the hospital. O’Connor isn’t married and has no children of his own, but he effortlessly rocks babies in his arms and is the one nurses call in the toughest of moments. They have called him in to sit with babies who are dying and whose parents are too traumatized to be present. “No matter how sick they are, no matter how devastated, he’s just so caring, he brings such a warmth and peace,” said Jeri Fonacier, a nurse in a general medical surgery unit on the fifth floor.