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Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Looking for a Hero

Canadian Blood Services celebrated local heroes at Bingeman’s on the evening of May 21, 2009. These heroes were all from the Waterloo Wellington Region, and each of the 406 named heroes reached milestones as blood donors this past year. These men and women are everyday heroes; they take the time to donate blood on a regular basis. They believe that the short time it takes them to make a donation every 64 days can impact many lives.

Combined they have made more than 27,000 donations, and since each donation can save up to three lives, more than 82,000 lives have been impacted directly by these 406 donors. That is almost one and a half times the capacity for Skydome for a baseball game. These people reached milestone donations in different categories: 50, 75, 100, 150, 200, and even one who reached 300 donations.
Most people can donate blood. To be eligible to donate you must bring photo ID, be between the ages of 17 and 71, and be at least 50 kg (110 lb). Donations can be made every 56 days for whole blood donations, and every seven days for platelet donation. In order to donate you need to be in general good health. At each donation you will go through screening and you will be asked a number of questions to determine your eligibility. Donating blood does not put you at risk of disease, as all needles are sterile, used only once and discarded. The usual blood collection - a “unit” - is about half a litre, or one pint. Your body soon replaces all the blood you donate.
Every minute of every day someone in Canada receives blood products. For some, many many times after that. At the event we heard the story of Baden, currently a vibrant six-year old boy. But at nine days old he was returned to the hospital, and by the time he was two and a half he had received 200 blood and blood product transfusions, and a bone marrow transplant at six months old. His mother Joanne told their story, and the support they received through the whole process.

Every one of us knows someone who has received blood or will need it. Therefore it only makes sense, as we are young and healthy, for us to consider becoming a donor. Every term at UW there is a special on campus blood drive. There is also a permanent clinic at Bridgeport and Weber where donations take place frequently. Each of you can also become a hero, if you start donating now. If you are 20 and start donating now and donate every 56 days until your 70th birthday, you too could donate over 300 pints of blood and help to save 900 lives. For an hour of your time every eight weeks this is a small price to pay to become a hero to so many.

(First Published in Imprint 2009-05-29 as 'Looking for a hero.')

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