Man goes Above and Beyond to donate 16 gallons of much-needed blood

SUFFERN, N.Y. (WABC) -- It's a simple act that can save lives: donating blood.

And for one man, it's a regular part of his life, rolling up his sleeves every few weeks.

He's gone Above and Beyond to give 16 gallons of blood.

If donating blood is the gift of life, then many people have Pat Heffernan to thank for that gift.

"It's just something that I always felt that I can do, so I do it," said Heffernan.

It was in the early 80's when Pat first offered his gift where he worked at Avon Products. "They had a blood drive and I donated there," he said.

Later he developed a relationship with the blood donor program at Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, Rockland County, where his "O" Positive blood type is added to a much needed supply.

"85% of the people coming into the hospital can actually receive his blood," said Donor Program Supervisor Patricia Bonnier.

"You know it's good. You know, not everybody can, so I always say thank you to people when they see that I've donated so many times," said Heffernan.

How much has he donated? "16 gallons. 16 gallons. So it's ah, I'm like 125 or 126 times," he said.

He was donating his 126th unit. And with each they will separate his blood.

"We use his red blood cells but we separate out the plasma that is used so he's actually helping two people," said Bonnier.

So, like clockwork, Pat and sometimes his wife Marion will drive, from their home in Monroe in Orange County, the 20 miles to Good Samaritan Hospital so Pat can give blood every 56 days.

And for the past 18 years donor technician Willer Franck has been drawing Pat's blood.

"Pat's like family now<" said Franck. ("You've known him a long time, what 18 years?," we asked.) "18 years," he said. ("That's a long time to be giving blood?") "That is a long time and he's going to continue giving," said Franck.

"And we really appreciate the generous gift that he has given so many people and the support he has given our hospital," said Bonnier.

His donations, above and beyond that of others, are thought to have helped the lives of some 400 patients.

"I didn't think that much. But, that's good, everybody that can use it, right?", said Heffernan.
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