Simcoe County paramedic used to helping others in need of bone-marrow transplant

Posted: January 28, 2015 at 9:47 pm

BARRIE - For Brian Hekman, coming to Barrie for a pint has taken on a whole new meaning.

A paramedic for the past 16 years, the 46-year-old Everett man now spends a dozen hours each week at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) receiving pints of platelet transfusions and blood to keep him healthy until a bone-marrow donor can be found.

It takes five blood donors to create enough platelets for one transfusion for Hekman.

To that end, a blood donor clinic is being held at the Barrie Canadian Blood Services clinic at 231 Bayview Dr., Thursday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. A second blood donor clinic has been set up at the Simcoe County administration offices in the mobile unit Feb. 2 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A father of two children under the age of three, Hekman was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a bone-marrow disorder, on Dec. 23 after a particularly tenacious flare-up of gout wouldnt subside.

Fresh from a blood transfusion at RVH, Hekman and his wife, Lisa, visited the Examiner on Tuesday morning.

While he admits fatigue and a weakened immune system have taken its toll on his body, Hekman said he feels buoyed by the support his fellow County of Simcoe paramedics, family and friends have shown in the last month.

Friends will offer to snow-blow our driveway, babysit or sometimes they drop off a casserole for dinner, he said. You never want to ask for help, but when someone does something like that, its just great.

As a paramedic, he said hes not used to being the person needing help.

Im used to carrying a 300-pound person up the stairs. Now I struggle to carry my six-month-old daughter upstairs, Hekman said.

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Simcoe County paramedic used to helping others in need of bone-marrow transplant

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