Posted at: 10/25/2012 4:46 PM
Updated at: 10/25/2012 6:52 PM
By: Gordon Severson
We've all heard that donating blood can save lives. Experts say each donation can save between 3 and 4 people.
Thursday afternoon Mayo Clinic honored their top donors.
One of the them has single-handedly saved nearly 1200 lives.
"I can give 24 times a year. I'm up to 23 now," David Bakken chuckles.
Over the past 50 years Bakken has donated blood 302 times.
"My daughter, infant daughter needed eye surgery and so that's how I paid for it. At that time they paid $25 for each donation," Bakken says.
After her surgery the habit just stuck.
To illustrate just how much blood Bakken has donated over the years, 302 donations comes to about 142 liters of blood.
There are 5.2 liters in the average adult body.
That means he's donated enough blood to fill 28 people.
Bakken, a retired RPU worker and longtime Rochester resident, has made it his mission to spread the message of donating blood.
"I wear my blood donor shirts and hats and let people know and encourage them," Bakken says.
Doctors at the center say he's their top ambassador and if they could they'd easily pay him for the amount of good he does.
"You are doing this thing for the benefit of others and I think this is one of the best gifts you can give," Blood Center Director Dr. Manish Gandhi says.
While they can't give him money, they can sweeten the deal with gifts and awards.
Thursday afternoon they presented him with the Top Donor award.
Commemorating his lifelong commitment to saving lives.
"I know it makes an impact on people that receive the blood," Bakken says.
According to doctors at Mayo's Blood Donation Center, Bakken is just a few dozen donations away from breaking the world record.
It's an accomplishment he hopes to achieve in his lifetime.