Heroes help save lives with blood

Published 9:44 pm Monday, July 9, 2012

Scott Van Duzer’s story provides evidence that we never know the full extent of the influence that we’ll have on others.

A little more than four years ago, Van Duzer, who owns a pizza shop in St. Lucie County, Fla., decided to start a monthly fundraising series at his store for various families who had special needs in his community. About a year after he began the series, he realized that the one thing all of the families had in common was a need for donated blood. That’s when he got the idea to turn the attention of his Van Duzer Foundation from simple fundraisers to blood donations.

The first of those drives was in the name of a 6-year-old local boy with brain cancer. Folks donated more than 250 pints of blood and $6,000 to the cause. During the years to come, the effort expanded into the rest of the county. Last year, communities all around the state of Florida celebrated Be a Hero Day with blood drives throughout the month of November.

Email newsletter signup

Van Duzer and a group of teenagers and adults representing the Boys & Girls Club of St. Lucie County rode bicycles through Suffolk over the weekend on a mission to take Be a Hero Day to the next level. When they reach the end of their ride in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, they will meet with U.S. Surgeon General Regina M. Benjamin to pitch the idea of a national observance of Be a Hero Day.

Sadly, the boy whose blood drive started the whole effort died while Van Duzer and the rest of the crew have been on the road. But the story of his need for donated blood is one that resonates with anyone who ever has faced major surgery, anyone who ever has been in a serious accident that required advanced medical treatment or anyone who ever has had a disease that required frequent transfusions of blood.

According to the American Red Cross, someone in the United States needs blood every two seconds. A single car accident victim can require up to 100 pints of blood. Patients with certain types of cancer can need daily transfusions of blood. The Red Cross estimates that 38,000 blood donations are needed every day. And because each donated pint of whole blood can be separated into two or three different life-giving components, each time a donor gives blood, he can help save up to three different lives.

Just as Scott Van Duzer had no idea how his idea of a blood drive would grow, blood donors never know whose lives they might save with their act of generosity. But the need is certain. For more information about the blood donation process and how you can become a donor, visit www.redcrossblood.org.