ROGERS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A man who beat Leukemia got the rare chance to meet some special donors who helped make it possible.

Craig Koning had been sick for months, losing 50 pounds in that time. With his condition worsening, he thought it was his time to die.

“I felt so bad that I was ready to go,” Koning said. “I was so sick at that point, I went straight over to Mercy and they admitted me immediately.”

Then the diagnosis came: Leukemia.

“From the nurse in the ICU to two different doctors to the oncologist all telling me we just had a short window,” Craig’s wife, Brenda Koning said.

She had two options; start chemo immediately even though Craig may be too weak to survive it, or do not do chemo, giving Craig and Brenda a few more days together before he would likely die.

“I couldn’t live with myself if I just let him die and I had the opportunity to do something different,” Brenda Koning said.

So the treatments began, including 38 blood transfusions, and Craig beat the odds.

“I can’t thank those 38 people enough. I don’t know their names. I don’t know where they’re from. I just know they’re special,” Craig Koning said.

Now, he does know their names. Community Blood Center of the Ozarks brought some of them together at its “Celebration of Life” luncheon. Craig embraced each one, including CBCO employee Shelby Williams.

“I’ve donated several times at work and usually what we do is they ask staff to donate to help with the goal. You don’t think about it. But now, meeting someone that my platelets saved their lives makes you feel a lot better. I have a husband. I have a son. Thinking about that really brings it home,” Williams said.

“Without it, I’d come home to an empty house at night. And I could never express my gratitude for what they gave, and they may not have even thought a lot about it when they did it, but it saved his life and I’ll be forever grateful for that,” Brenda Koning said.

Community Blood Center of the Ozarks is the sole provider of blood to all of our area hospitals. If you would like to give, click here.