KEARNEY — Dustin Behlmann loves babies. A few years ago, he dressed up as Santa Claus so babies could be photographed with him.
That affection spills over to giving blood.
In the past 10 years, Behlmann has donated three gallons of blood. His O positive blood type also is CMV negative, which means he can give blood to newborns. Newborns cannot receive blood that is CMV positive, but Behlmann is one of the rare adults whose blood is CMV negative.
Dustin, 34, who is developmentally disabled and attends Mosaic, lives in Kearney with his parents, Jennifer and Gary Behlmann, owners of Kearney Towing & Repair Center.
“By the time most people are old enough to give blood at age 18, they have a CMV antibody,” Jennifer said.
CMV is a virus that occurs naturally in the human body. Most people have had that silent virus by the time they reach age 18, after which the body produces an antibody against it. Behlmann is one of the few individuals who never had that virus.
“The first time he donated blood, the Red Cross sent a letter saying he was CMV negative and eligible to donate for babies,” Jennifer said. “They can’t give CMV positive blood to newborns, so he is pretty valuable. He could save a baby’s life.”
He also may donate his O positive blood to any person with any positive blood type.
Dustin began donating blood 10 years ago after a young woman he worked with suggested that he do it.
“He was not going to be deterred,” his mother said. “He understands what this is about, He made up his mind. He was going to do it. He called me at work and told me he had made an appointment to donate. He called RYDE Transit for a ride.”
He’s been at it ever since.
“Now he just goes on his own,” his mother added.
Nicole Johnk, Red Cross blood donor recruitment manager for central Nebraska, said, “I appreciate Dustin taking the time out of his day to save lives. Three gallons? What an accomplishment!”
Asked why he donates, Dustin said, “I do it for the babies.”