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Man donates 35 gallons of blood | News

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Man donates 35 gallons of blood
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) - Every two seconds someone in this country is in need of blood.  While nearly 40% of the U. S. population is eligible to donate blood, less than 10% do.

One West Michigan man has dedicated most of his life to blood donation by donating 35 gallons of blood, that's the equivalent to saving 840 lives.

Recently, Dick Benjamin also began donating platelets because he wanted to help pediatric cancer patients who need it as part of their treatment.

We surprised him with a visit to the Helen De Vos Children's Hospital to meet one of the many patients who benefit from his generous donation.  We headed to the 10th floor - the home to pediatric cancer patients.

Dr. David Dickens is a pediatric oncologist and explains why people like Dick are so important, "Without platelet transfusions patients undergoing chemotherapy very commonly would have problems with bleeding that won't stop."

Gerrit Baas has brain cancer, he receives blood platelet transfusions an average of twice a week and is only able to continue chemotherapy because of donors like Dick.

"Meeting these kids just makes my day," says Dick. Gerrit tells him his brain tumor was discovered because his vision was getting blurry, "When they took the MRI they found out I had a tumor and they tried removing it but they couldn't take it all out so now I'm having chemo."

And Gerrit says receiving platelet transfusions is actually kind of fun, "It's pretty much just sitting in a chair watching TV all day.

Before it's time to say goodbye Dick gives his final hug of the day makes a promise to continuing giving Gerrit the platelets he and other pediatric cancer patients need for as long as he can.

If you've been inspired by Dick Benjamin's story to donate blood or platelets you're in luck. MI Blood is holding a blood drive May 24th - May 26th at its main location on Fuller Avenue in Grand Rapids.

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