MTA subway conductor fighting for life due to COVID-19, TWU Local 100 seeks blood donors

UPDATE: According to TWU LOCAL 100, plasma of any blood type from a male donor is now being accepted. Previously, they specified A positive but didn’t specify a donor gender. Donors still must have tested positive for COVID-19, recovered, be male and not had symptoms for 14 days. 

A veteran MTA conductor is fighting for his life due to COVID-19.

57-year-old Local 100’s RTO Conductor Vice Chair and Midwood resident Ben Schaeffer is currently on a ventilator at Maimonides Medical Center, according to the Transport Workers Union Local 100 (TWU Local 100).

New York’s Industrial Transportation Union announced on its Twitter account that doctors have recommended an experimental new treatment called Convalescent Plasma.

“The Blood Bank at the hospital needs blood donors who have tested positive for the coronavirus, have recovered, and have gone at least 14 days without symptoms,” TWU Local 100 stated on its site. “Ben’s blood type is A+ and he needs a matching donor or donors to come to his assistance now. The number at Maimonides for potential donors to call is 718-283-7657. If you have type A+ blood, please help your union brother.”

NYC Transit Interim President Sarah Feinberg provided this paper with a statement

“Conductor Schaeffer is a hero for the work he does day in and day out, and the entire Transit family, more than 50,000 strong, is praying for his quick recovery,” she said. “We encourage anyone who can help to come forward and hope to see our colleague back on the job soon.”

“Ben Schaffer is an active member of Bay Democrats club, nice, generous and caring person,” added Democratic District Leader, 45th Assembly District Ari Kagan. “Ben is a member of 70th Precinct Community Council, TWU Local 100’s RTO Conductor Vice Chair. Ben loved to help people, offered his advice and encouragement, had a great sense of humor and a passion for a volunteer community work. Ben introduced several resolutions during our club meetings and they passed unanimously.”

Kagan added, “Ben loved to participate in political discussions, supported reforms and open transparency of the democratic process.
On behalf of all my colleagues in Bay Democrats club, I wish Ben a speedy recovery. We urge anybody who is qualified to be his blood donor to contact Maimonides Hospital.”

 Locals also responded to the news of Schaeffer’s condition.

“’I’ve known Ben for years,” said Arthur De Gaeta, who is Schaeffer’s friend and neighbor. “I remember when he began his career as an MTA conductor. He knew all about the subway system, its infrastructure and history. He loved working the nostalgia trains and would always give me a heads up on when they were going to run. He was a subway buff. If you had a question about train operations, he would give you an earful.”

De Gaeta also discussed how Schaeffer loved trains.

“His vacation days were spent train watching, in or out of town,” he said. “He was also active in the community. A retired NYPD Auxiliary Sergeant from the 70th precinct, a member of the Midwood Development board of directors and also a member of the Bay Democrats.”

Other locals took to social media to discuss the veteran conductor

“Wishing him a very speedy recovery,” added Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus.

“Ben Schaeffer is an activemember of Bay Democrats, very generous and kind, caring person,” said one person via Facebook. We are all praying for his recovery.”

“I remember talking to him at the meeting I went to,” added another person. “Oh my this is sad, hope for his speedy recovery!!”

According to NBC News, Schaeffer rushed to evacuate his train at 36th Street station in Sunset Park when he spotted someone pouring gasoline all over the train floor and feared an explosion in 2018.

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