| Oct 22, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - October 22, 2009 A dedicated donorBy Julie Druker

Assisted by CBS phlebotomist Fran Mack, Ken Waller makes his 152nd donation at the Sharbot Lake blood donor clinic on October 15.

Ken Waller of Sharbot Lake is no novice when it comes to rolling up his sleeve and offering up his blood. In fact on October 15 at the Blood Donor Clinic held at St. James Major in Sharbot Lake, Ken offered up his red stuff for the 152nd time.

Ken has been donating blood since he was 17, the minimum age required for donors and has been donating as often as the Canadian Blood Services (CBS) allows, every 56 days, roughly six times a year.

Ken’s dad was a regular blood donor and though he did not insist that his son do the same, his actions had a strong impact on Ken.

Ken explained his motivation. “I just always thought it was a good idea. What always struck me is that the service is entirely voluntary and free and I often wondered how I would feel if someone I knew or loved needed blood and there was none available. And it is such an easy thing to do.”

It’s true. The CBS donor clinics run like clockwork and are divided into a few sequential efficient steps.

First, donors may (and are encouraged to) call ahead to make an appointment so as to avoid delays.

At the door the donor registers, shows identification, receives a questionnaire form and is directed to a table where a nurse takes a very quick blood sample (a wee pin prick) to ensure that the donor’s iron levels are normal.

At this stage a donor may be turned away if their iron levels are low, which only means that that particular day is not a good day for them to donate.

After this test Ken is given the go-ahead and proceeds to a table to fill out the first half of a questionnaire, which includes a series of personal health questions.

He then proceeds to a private screening room where a nurse asks him the series of questions that determine if any past behavior has put him at risk for getting hepatitis or HIV, factors which also determine the donor’s eligibility to donate.

It should be mentioned here that the personal privacy of all donors is highly respected in the donation process and the donor at any time during the process can choose to opt out, without an explanation.

Having passed the second step, Ken is escorted to a cot by Fran Mack, a phlebotomist who takes his blood, which in Ken's case, takes about six minutes.

While Ken is still on the cot, Fran joins in our conversation and mentions a relative who when battling leukemia required regular three unit blood transfusions every five or six weeks. Fran said, “It kept her alive for three years.”

Stephanie Pacheco, a charge nurse for CBS who headed up the St. James clinic, said, “We’ve increased our borders and currently feed 100 hospitals in the area. We (CBS) need blood all the time, but especially during holiday weekends when there can be more accidents. But that being said, we are always in need.” Regarding the current donation trends, she continued, “On the whole, our generation is not as involved as the older generations who have seen more war. At the same time older people like Ken, who are always giving, are really amazing and really help.”

Ken’s advice to first time blood donors? “It’s a relatively painless experience and has extreme benefits. A single donation (roughly one pint) can save up to three lives, so there is definitely a nice feeling that goes along with that.”

The next clinic in Sharbot Lake at St. James Major will be Thursday, December 10. Donors can call 1-888-2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283) to pre-register. Walk-ins are also welcome.

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