HACKENSACK, NJ – The city’s firefighters have always been the lifeblood of Hackensack. And now, one longtime firefighter needs yours.

Rich Kubler – who has served on the Hackensack Fire Department since 1998 and subsequently assisted in the rescue efforts at Ground Zero following 9/11 – is asking members of the community to become blood platelet donors after a recent hospital visit had him in dire need of them. After seeking treatment for a medical issue in the last week, doctors uncovered an aggressive cancer in Kubler's liver, but were unable to perform a biopsy to initiate treatment due to a low platelet level. Platelets are miniscule blood cells that come to the body’s aid when a blood vessel is damaged in order to adhere to the injury and form clots to cease bleeding. Doctors surmise Kubler’s cancer stemmed from exposure to toxic chemicals from working in Ground Zero 18 years ago. 

While Kubler is currently undergoing treatment at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston given the shortage of necessary platelets in area blood donation facilities, Kubler is asking the community to donate blood platelets to blood donation centers like Vitalant in Montvale. The nonprofit collects blood from volunteer donors and provides blood products and services across the country.“ 

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Rich is just a great guy, and he wants everyone to donate, not just for him but everyone in need,” said Hackensack Captain Justin Derevyanik.

The facility also has locations in Paramus, Lincoln Park and Parsippany. One employee at the Montvale headquarters said the need for blood platelets is immediate. 

“It’s really urgent,” said Monika, a Vitalant employee. “We really are struggling with platelets for patients in the hospitals.”

While the Montvale facility has seen an uptick in donors given recent media coverage, the influx of donors fades fast. Donors, she explained, are needed to meet the everyday demands for blood platelets and blood plasma. Kubler, she said, was in need of five units of platelets to complete his biopsy. Besides cancer patients, other ailing individuals in need of platelets include bone marrow recipients and burn victims. 

The donation procedure, which takes two hours, entails being connected to a machine via a needle, which draws out the donor’s blood, separating the blood platelets to collect between 1-3 units of blood. Cookies and juice are served immediately after the procedure.   

Vitalant is located at 1 West Ridgewood Avenue in Paramus. Call 201.444.3900 to inquire about donation.