40 Oklahomans Saved Bennett's Life

40 Oklahomans Saved Bennett's Life

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Bennett Hanneman's life changed when he was only five months old.  A doctor noticed a heart murmur and ordered blood tests, but a phlebotomist could barely draw blood.

"That was about 10:00 in the morning and by that afternoon we were in the children's emergency room beginning some very very serious things to be able to take care of a very sick little boy," said Aimee Henneman, Bennett's mother.

A 48-hour continuous blood transfusion was required to get Bennett stabilized.

"What we soon learned was that he was on the verge of stroke and cardiac arrest," she said. "It's miraculous that he survived that day."

The diagnosis was Pearson Syndrome, a very rare and often deadly condition in only 100 children in the world.  It affects the cells of many organ systems.

"It's really just various organ failures that can begin to happen at different times."

Aimee says literature suggests life expectancy is short: two, three, or four years.  But through social media she found other children who are 11 and 12 years old.

"We look at those kids with hope and pray that Bennett might be one of those kids one day."

This blonde, bubbly, two-year old might just do that if he continues receiving blood every few weeks.  Since August of 2012, Bennett has relied on blood donors to maintain a healthy hemoglobin level.

Aimee says about 40 Oklahomans have kept her son alive by donating blood. It's something she and her husband have been doing for years.  Aimee finally stepped up to become a 2-RBC donor.  She says Bennett's courage is the reason why.

"I thought... who am I kidding?" she said. "If he can be brave enough to do that I can be brave enough to try a 2-RBC."

A 2-RBC is a double red cell donation that takes about 90 minutes. Oklahoma Blood Institute says it's desperately needed from O-negative donors.

"It provides more red blood cells of that blood type so that it could provide more donations at one time," said Jamie Davis, Communications Manager at Oklahoma Blood Institute.

Although Aimee will never know which Oklahomans saved her son's life, she has a special message for them and those who decide to roll up their sleeve in the future.

"There's not a way to say thank you for that except to say thank you and to please keep doing it because it's not just Bennett, it's somebody every single day."

If you'd like to help save lives, please participate in the Casino Blood Drive sponsored by Fox 25 and Oklahoma Blood Institute.  Donors will receive a "Feel Cool" T-shirt, 2 tickets to the Oklahoma City Zoo, and a $10 voucher for casino play.

The following 10 casinos are participating:

Wednesday, May 21st
    Riverwind Casino, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Thursday, May 22nd
    Lucky Star Casino - Concho, 1 p.m. - 6 p.m.
    SaltCreek Casino, 1 p.m. - 6 p.m.
    Sugar Creek Casino, 1 p.m. - 6 p.m.
    Remington Park Racetrack & Casino, Noon - 4 p.m.

Friday, May 23rd
    Lucky Star Casino - Clinton, 1 p.m. - 6 p.m.
    FireLake Casino, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
    Grand Casino, 1 p.m. - 6 p.m.

Saturday, May 24th
    Kickapoo Casino Harrah, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
    Newcastle Casino, Noon - 5 p.m. 

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