This week, hundreds of people have answered the call to help a Burke county deputy. Sgt. Jay Hollingsworth suffered a gunshot wound while on duty and is still dealing with health complications so multiple organizations hosted blood drives to help.
For a large part of the day there was a line outside the Shepeard Blood mobile parked in front of the Burke County Sheriff’s Office. Even though he is not in good health, Hollingsworth was there because he said he wanted to personally thank the people who came to donate.
“I’ve been really lucky and really blessed through this whole thing,” Hollingsworth says.
Six years ago, he responded to a structure fire to help fire crews as they fought flames.
“I’d been working six day straight, last call of the day, 15 minutes before getting off,” Hollingsworth says as he remembers that night.
Unknown to anyone, there was a loaded gun inside the building. Once it got hot enough, the gun went off.
“I was in the wrong place at the wrong time and the bullet struck me in the stomach,” Hollingsworth says. “My biggest fear was where I was hit at. I had over 20 years at that time of law enforcement experience. I’ve worked several gunshot victims, especially shot in that area, who did not make it.”
Ever since that night, he has had a list of complications.
“I’ve had 4 surgeries. I had an internal bleed where I almost bled to death. I’ve already had four units of blood,” Hollingsworth explains.
Recently, he was hit with another complication– lead poisoning.
“I just started having uncontrollable pain. In the course of 2 weeks, all my hair fell out,” describes Hollingsworth.
It is common for doctors to leave a bullet behind, but it is not common for one to be lead-based. In order to rid Hollingsworth’s body of lead poisoning, he has to have a pretty serious surgery and it could require a lot of blood. The sheriffs office and other local organizations hosted blood drives to help.
Hollingsworth did not publicize his blood type because he did not want to deter people from coming out. He wanted anyone and everyone who could donate blood to come because he wants the blood to go to others in need as well.
“The community has jumped on board,” Hollingsworth says. “The phone calls and the messages and the visits over the last 3 weeks have just been very touching, very special and it’s great to see so many people showing up for something that can help the community out so much.”
Right now, Hollingsworth is working with his doctor to get his surgery scheduled. He says he hopes he does not need any of the blood donated this week so that it can go to others.