The local minister’s experience has led him to repay the favor by hosting the first of what he says will become a longstanding tradition of blood drives for the American Red Cross at his Scotts Valley Church.
The first drive will take place Saturday, April 20.
“It’ll be the first of many to come,” he said. “I hope to have two or three of these per year.”
Hennes said he had always hoped of hosting a drive during his 12-year tenure as pastor at Scotts Valley’s GateWay Bible Church, but it always seemed to get lost in the shuffle.
But that all changed after Sept. 15.
On that day, Hennes helped out at a Habitat for Humanity project, did some yard work around the house, and took an hour-long bike ride before settling in to watch the Stanford-USC football game.
It was during the game that Hennes began to experience pain in his abdomen that “felt like it was turning inside out.”
A trip to emergency room at Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz revealed that he was bleeding internally.
He spent the next three days in the intensive care unit before doctors determined the source of the bleeding was a hole in a blood vessel in his intestinal tract caused by a Meckel’s carcinoid tumor.
“I didn’t realize how serious this was until I went to the hospital,” Hennes said. “I had internal bleeding going on for 40 hours.”
While the doctors were running tests, Hennes required regular blood transfusions — nearly six pints.
“Once it started bleeding, there was no stopping it,” he said. “Without blood, I would have died.”
After surgery corrected the problem, Hennes spent another six days in the hospital recuperating, giving him time to reflect on the blood that kept him alive long enough for doctors to save him.
“I was just thinking: ‘Wow, somebody I don’t know and will probably never meet gave blood — and here I am,’” he said. “When you’re having a bag of blood being pumped into your veins, you truly appreciate the kindness of others.”
After he returned to work in November 2012, Hennes said it was a given that GateWay Bible Church would host a blood drive.
He described it as a “way for our church to rally our community.”
“You never know when you’ll be on the other side,” he said. “Even if you’ll never need blood, it’s just a good thing to help your common man.”
Jared Schultzman, a spokesman for the American Red Cross Northern California Blood Services Region, said efforts such as the one planned at GateWay Bible Church are essential.
He said the Red Cross needs continuous sources of blood due to the massive demand for — and limited shelf life of — blood and the plasma and platelets that can be derived from it.
“On average, we need to collect 300 pints a day to meet the needs of the hospitals we serve in the Bay Area,” Schultzman said. “There’s always a need for all the blood types.”
At a glance
What: GateWay Bible Church Blood Drive
When: Saturday, April 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: GateWay Bible Church, 5000 Granite Creek Road, in Scotts Valley
To make an appointment to donate blood, call 1-800-733-27677 or visit www.redcrossblood.org and enter the sponsor code GWBCBLOOD.