By: Dan Dowling, Regional Communications Manager
“Jack was two and a half when he got diagnosed with leukemia, and then we did that for two and a half years. He relapsed and then a year and a half of what we call hell in my family. It was brutal.”
Dennis Hendrickson's son, Jack, had a tough start in life. As a toddler, he battled cancer and relied on life-saving blood donations to survive. Jack's family endured several difficult years as he was in and out of the hospital. However, he eventually pulled through. "It just really opened my eyes. I never really experienced anything like that in my life," says Hendrickson.
Hendrickson witnessed the positive effects of blood transfusions on his son firsthand. He noticed a significant difference each time his son received one. Now 29 years old, Jack is healthy and thriving. Hendrickson made a commitment to donate his blood, so someone else could experience the rejuvenation that his son received from the blood donations.
Hendrickson, a Granite-Stater from Brookline, has been donating blood ever since. He says, “They used to do blood drives at work and they made it super convenient. You would just stand in line and give blood, and it was right there. It just multiplied from there.”
He is now an 8-gallon blood donor. Whenever he donates, he thinks about the time his family was in the hospital with his then 2-year-old son. “There were times when we took our share. I think I’ve given back more that we took at this point. It’s unbelievable the healing just getting some fresh blood in the system.” says Hendrickson.
The need for blood is constant. Every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. Every day, volunteer blood and platelet donors are needed across the country to help save lives. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 1.9 million people are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in 2023. Many of them will need blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment. When you roll up a sleeve to donate, you help change a life.
Hendrickson encourages others to think about where the donation is going and who it might benefit. “It’s probably one of the more relaxing parts of my day, to be honest with you.” says Hendricks. He says its one of the easiest things someone could do to make a difference.
The Red Cross provides about 40% of our nation’s blood and blood components, all from generous volunteer donors. But supply can’t always meet demand because only about 3% of age-eligible people donate blood yearly. Each new donor helps us meet patient needs.
Roll up a sleeve to help save lives. Eligible individuals are encouraged to schedule a blood or platelet donation appointment by using the Red Cross Blood Donor app, visiting redcrossblood.org or calling 800-RED-CROSS (800-733-2767).