A Donor's Story: Paul

Dec 1, 2022 | Kayla Mulhern | @kaylam1

Nearly 50 years ago, in 1973, Paul Henke started at Mayo Clinic in General Services. One of his many duties was the early morning “blood run.” This involved collecting units of donated blood from the Blood Bank, and then delivering them to various locations around campus where they were assigned. Working with donated blood inspired Paul to help the cause.

“I began giving blood soon after the Blood Bank moved into the Hilton Building around 1975,” says Paul, who recently reached his 22 gallon milestone as a donor. “Like a lot of younger Mayo employees, we did it because we thought it a good cause.”

Paul moved to Cardiac Surgery in 1979, as a cardiovascular monitoring technologist. “It wasn’t until I moved to Cardiac Surgery that I realized the enormous need for blood transfusions,” he says. “Many of the new clotting products had not yet been developed.”

In 1990, Paul joined the new Cardiothoracic Transplant team, where he would remain until retiring in 2021. “Our job was twofold,” he recounts. “We were on call 24/7 as part of the Organ Recovery Team, assisting in the surgical recovery of hearts and lungs for transplant. The other job was the evolution of temporary and, later, long-term implantable cardiac assist devices.”

Paul has done about 500 heart and lung donor organ procurements, traveling by ground, helicopter, turboprop fixed-wing planes, and jets. “A successful transplant always takes multiple blood products,” he says. “Without the backing of a tremendous Blood Bank, none of this would be possible, and I would urge everyone to please donate.”

How to Donate
For more information about donating blood in Rochester, Minnesota, call (507) 284-4475 or email donateblood@mayo.edu. Or visit our webpage http://www.mayoclinic.org/donateblood.

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