BRADENTON, Fla. — They've saved hundreds of lives and no we're not talking about doctors or first responders. We're talking about Manatee County's top two OneBlood platelet donors.
“It doesn’t cost you anything but a little bit of time,” John Van Berkel said.
Every other Wednesday you can find John Van Berkel in a chair at OneBlood donating platelets.
“People would be a lot worse off medically, at least in my mind,” Van Berkel said. “Without other people donating, whether it is blood, whole blood or plasma or platelets.”
Van Berkel started donating in 1979 when he was 30 years old and living in Miami. He went from donating blood to platelets, which are used in cancer treatment.
“I don’t do this for me, I do this because I can help somebody else whether I know them or not,” Van Berkel said.
One blood says Van Berkel has saved hundreds of lives over his years of donations.
“Right here, I am fast approaching 157 gallons and we’ve estimated probably much closer to 200 if we count all the way back to 1979.”
That makes him one of the top donors in the United States.
“Follow in John‘s footsteps because he is really setting a great example of the commitment of donating and what that does to help ensure ready blood supply,” said Susan Forbes, the senior vice president of corporate communications and public relations for OneBlood.
Van Berkel said if you’ve never donated blood before it’s not too late. He challenges you to stick out your arm and save a life.
“There’s always room for somebody else to donate,” Van Berkel said. “Try it you’ll like it!”
Dave Moates is following in Van Berkel’s footsteps. He's donated 125 gallons, making him another top donor.
“It’s worthwhile, it’s something I know I can put back into the community and stuff and it gets me out of the house a little more often,” Moates said.
Even though Moates and Van Berkel are retired, they said they won't retire from donating blood anytime soon.
"I will continue to donate until OneBlood or until someone says we really can’t use it,” Moates said. “So as long as I’m able to donate I will continue to do that."
If you're healthy and 16 or older and weigh at least 110-pounds, you can donate blood.
If you want to follow in Van Berkel and Moate's footsteps, OneBlood said their doors are always open.
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