Shortly after getting married, Dave Bakken learned that his wife's young daughter — now his step-daughter — needed eye surgery. Looking for ways to pay for the surgery, Dave walked into Mayo Clinic's Blood Donor Center, then located inside the Plummer Building in Rochester. "That was a long time ago, of course," Dave tells us. "I started donating in 1960, I think. They were paying $25 for each donation at that time, and that's how I paid for our daughter's surgery. It's also how I got started donating, and I guess I just never quit."
That may be putting it mildly.
Long-time readers (Cory wanted to call you "old-timers," but we convinced him otherwise) may recall, back in 2012, Dave got ink when he donated his way to being Mayo's top blood donor. Last month, he put another feather in his donor cap when he walked into the Mayo Clinic Blood Donor Center and donated his 350th unit.
In a Facebook post that celebrates Dave's "faithfulness and commitment to helping us save patient lives," Blood Donor Center staff say that when you do the math (and they apparently have) "it is quite possible" the 350 units of blood Dave has donated "may have helped touch up to 1,050 patients through the years."
While Dave says he appreciates the acknowledgement, he tells us it's not what's kept him donating year after year and will continue to for as long as he's able. "The people who need it are the main reason why I continue to give," he says. "So I'm just going to keep on doing it for as long as they'll have me."
For those who may be on the fence about making their first donation, Dave has this advice: Just do it. "It's a good thing for all of us to give of ourselves once in a while, and to help other people," he says. "I understand that my donations are going to a good cause, and because of that, I think it's a good thing for all of us to do. We're helping people in need here. That's basically what it's all about."
Justin Kreuter, M.D., director of Mayo's Blood Donor Center, says there's no "basically" about it. "Regular blood donors like Dave are critical for patient care here at Mayo Clinic," Dr. Kreuter tells us. "They're the reason our local community is able to support the majority of the transfusion needs of a world-class medical center like Mayo Clinic."
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