Organ loss makes Rockford man a life-saver - – Rockford’s News Leader

Organ loss makes Rockford man a life-saver

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Platelet donor Dave Bennett Platelet donor Dave Bennett
Lymphoma patient James Totenhagen Lymphoma patient James Totenhagen

5,000. That's about how many platelet units the Rock River Valley Blood Center needs each year. Center workers say their numbers are okay, but this busy time of year can stretch the supply thin. Rockford resident Dave Bennett has been doing his part for nearly 20 years to help the blood center reach its annual platelet quota. He says he's donated a total of 785 times

Dave had been donating whole blood since 1970, but a car accident in the mid-90's changed his life in more than one way.

"I lost my spleen and one of the side effects of losing your spleen is your platelet count changes and it might affect you by 10%, another person by 50%, but mine just about doubled." -he says.

He's been a regular at the center ever since giving platelets and time.

"Because it's a different kind of donation, you need people who are willing to come sit with a needle in their arm for sometimes two hours." -explains RRVBC P.R. Marketing Manager Jennifer Bowman.

Dave says, "I just think it's neat to be able to help people and there are so many people out there, whether it's burn victims or cancer patients who need the platelets and I've got an abundant supply. As long as I keep donating it's healthy for me because it makes my body regenerate the platelets and so it's good for me and it's good for everybody."

Donors like Dave help patients like Loves Park resident James Totenhagen diagnosed with Stage 4 lymphoma two years ago.

"His platelets were low, at 20,000, when platelets are supposed to be 150,000-400,000." -says James's physician, SwedishAmerican Hematologist & Oncologist Dr. Nameer Mardini.

James needed an emergency platelet transfusion before chemotherapy treatments could begin.

"Platelets are part of the clotting factors of the red blood cell, so when the platelets are low like that, patients are at an extremely high risk for bleeding. One of the things we worry about is bleeding in the brain which could cause a stroke." -says James's R.N. at Swedes, Barb Speed.

Dave has a goal, to donate 1,000 units by the time he's 70. Each could provide life-saving transfusions.

"God bless those people like that because I wouldn't be sitting here in this chair if there wasn't." -James says.

To find out how you can start donating, click here.

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