A local man is calling on Red Deerians to donate blood and to sign their donor cards this coming winter.
“We’re here to encourage blood donation because when you talk to the blood services people there’s a shortage of donors, a shortage of blood in Alberta so they really need blood donation. And there’s a tremendous shortage of organ donation, too,” said John Bouw, a former recipient of blood products.
Back in 2012, Bouw received a double lung and heart transplant and required four units of blood to survive the surgery. Last weekend, the Red Deer resident was at the Canadian Blood Services Blood Donor Clinic in the City to raise awareness and encourage eligible donors to give blood and to sign their organ donor cards.
“A lot of people die waiting for an organ donation. I just had another friend that I grew up with in Ontario who just had a kidney transplant last week. So it’s not an uncommon thing. These things happen to very happy people as well,” Bouw said.
Last Saturday, Bouw’s family organized a huge blood drive that saw more than 30 of Bouw’s family and friends come to the clinic to donate.
“We even got people donating blood in Ontario. My sister just put on facebook that she donated just this morning in Ontario. So we have a lot of friends and family and friends of friends. We’re really happy with the turnout,” Bouw said.
According to Judy Jones, the associate director of donor relations for Canadian Blood Services, a leukemia patient requires about eight units per week for their treatments and a car accident victim could require up to 50 units.
“Now when I say a unit, a unit is one person coming in,” Jones said, adding that between Oct. 11th and Nov. 11th, Canadian Blood Services has 100,000 open appointments nationally.
What that transfers to locally, she said, is about 350 appointments per week that they are trying to fill.
“So if you can imagine a patient like John who needed blood and blood products, trying to make sure we have those appointments filled and getting new donors into the system, it’s just creating better awareness in the public about coming in. There’s a lot of people saying yes I really should do that, but they need to make that someday today,” she said.
Jones said unlike many charitable cash donations, blood donation has an immediate impact on someone’s life.
“It helps a patient literally within 48 hours so that they too can have a good recovery or help with any treatments.”
Right now, Canadian Blood Services is especially in need of type O and A donors to come in, though all blood types are welcome. An average blood donation appointment takes just an hour and both Jones and Bouw said they encourage anyone who is eligible to book an appointment or to come into the Canadian Blood Services Clinic for a regular Saturday clinic from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 5020 68th St. in Red Deer. There is also a mobile clinic at the Lacombe Memorial Centre on Oct. 17th from 3 – 8 p.m.