Arthur Bourget, of West Gardiner, was honored April 20 with the Blood Services Award during the American Red Cross of Maine’s Real Hero Breakfast in Portland.

Bourget was one of seven individuals and one organization recognized, according to an American Red Cross, Maine Region news release.

“We’re honoring everyday people who do extraordinary things in service to others,” said Patricia Murtagh, CEO of the American Red Cross of Maine. “We salute these Real Heroes and recognize that they embody the spirit that is at the very heart of the American Red Cross. It’s the dedication of our volunteers and the generosity of our donors that ensures that we can be there for families when disaster strikes.”

Bourget’s story: When the doctor called, he told Bourget to get his wife on the phone as well and then delivered the grim news: It appears you have leukemia.

“I looked at my wife at that exact second and I told her, I said, ‘I’m going to fight this to the end. Leukemia is not going to kill me,'” Bourget recalled.

But, later, while in the hospital for his second blood transfusion, a nurse told him the blood was not available. Bourget had to wait for nearly eight hours that day and he realized that despite his promise to his wife, he would not be able to survive without the blood he needed. In all, he received more than 28 blood transfusions and more than 35 platelet transfusions.

Bourget beat leukemia, but can no longer donate blood himself. He gives back by sponsoring his own drives and inspiring others to donate blood with his personal story and his tireless advocacy.

“Donors may never really know the lives that they’ve saved,” Bourget said, in the release, “but I guarantee you those recipients will never forget.”

Other 2017 Real Heroes include: Jayne Hitchcock, of York, Education Award; Lt. Joesph Carroll and firefighter Steve Mercier, of Saco, Public Safety Award; Kathy Sawyer, of Old Orchard Beach, Lifesaving Award; Paul Reynolds, of Harrison, and Andrew Grant, of Norway, Good Samaritan Award; and Unitil, Corporate Partner Award.

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