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Firefighter Robert Wiedmann, injured in 2011 blaze, to meet blood donors

Robert Wiedmann greets Ray Hegarty, 34, a donor

Robert Wiedmann greets Ray Hegarty, 34, a donor who travelled specifically for Robert, at the NYBC donor recognition dinner at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury on May 7, 2014. Credit: Johnny Milano

Robert Wiedmann, an FDNY firefighter from Islip Terrace who was critically injured in a 2011 Brooklyn fire, is to meet the people who helped save his life at the New York Blood Center's annual appreciation awards dinner Wednesday night.

The dinner, which is to honor more than 2500 Long Island organizations that sponsor blood drives, was expected to provide an uplifting surprise for donors who usually never see the outcome of their efforts, officials said.

"Giving blood is a gift without any expectation," blood center spokesman Harvey Schaffler said in a phone interview. "It's atypical that we have an event where a recipient meets his or her donors."

Ten donors are expected to attend the celebration dinner, two from Long Island.

Donors from the New York City and Long Island rallied for Wiedmann when, on Dec. 19, 2011, he was trapped in a burning Crown Heights building and suffered third-degree burns on more than half of his body.

Wiedmann, a blood donor himself, received a "tremendous outpour" of type O-negative blood after the fire, the blood center said in a statement. The rush of donations -- a Syosset blood drive alone collected 112 pints -- sustained him during more than a dozen grafting surgeries.

O-negative blood type makes up just 6 percent of the population. Donors of that blood type are known as "universal donors" because O-negative can be transfused to patients of any blood type. However, people with O-negative blood can only receive that type.

The nonprofit New York Blood Center serves more than 22 million people in New York City, Long Island, the Hudson Valley, New Jersey, and parts of Connecticut and Pennsylvania, according the statement.

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