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Tom Hansen, Blood Recipient

Tom and Elaine Hansen are extremely thankful for generous blood donors. Because of them, Tom and Elaine will celebrate Valentine's Day together.

Tom and Elaine met when they posed as a couple for a restaurant's photoshoot. Elaine was an employee of the restaurant, and Tom's daughter, also an employee of the restaurant, recommended he stand in when the original male actor fell through.

"The whole photo shoot, we were both thinking this is the kind of person I've always wanted to meet," Elaine said of the chance encounter.

Weeks later, Tom asked the restaurant manager for Elaine's number, and the couple started dating. Five years later they tied the knot.

One Thanksgiving, on his birthday, Tom suffered a stroke, which left him weak and vulnerable. It took 11 units of blood and open-heart surgery to save his life.

"I am so grateful knowing people are taking the time to donate their blood for whoever may need it," Elaine said through tears. "I saw my husband extremely ill—to the point that I didn't know if he was going to make it. I watched him receive blood. I was so thankful it was available when he needed it."

One day Elaine got a phone call from Nebraska Community Blood Bank letting her know her blood type was needed, she immediately scheduled an appointment. Just the night before, she had sat across the table from her husband Tom and they talked about how happy they were he was alive and doing well.  

“We spent three long stressful months completely unsure of the future,” Elaine said. “When I look at him I see him smiling, not only with his mouth but also with his eyes. I know he is back and we can start living a normal life again. What a victory. I want to help provide that peace for others.” 

Tom, who can no longer donate, is happy to be with the love of his life. 

"I'm so thankful to have found such a wonderful partner in Elaine," Tom said. "Without her I wouldn't have made it. She powered me all the way through this. I'm so thankful."