Many businesses rely on their regulars to keep them afloat. The same goes for blood donation clinics.
Long-time blood donor Kelly Wagner has touched the lives of hundreds, and now he’s encouraging others to do the same.
“I was 17 when I first donated blood,” he said in a recent interview.
Since that afternoon with his father, Wagner has added more than 99 donations to his resume.
“For me, it’s something I feel we all should do on a regular basis.”
Every donation can help save a life, which is why people like Wagner and fellow donor Larry Kemp have taken every opportunity they can to donate. Kemp has donated an astounding 607 times, and is a dedicated plasma donor.
Approximately 135 of the 607 donations are regular blood donations, and the rest are strictly plasma donations, which can be done every six days. Kemp notes that the only place to donate plasma in Nova Scotia is in Halifax, so he would like to see better accessibility across the province.
For Kemp, it's the shared passion with the people working in the clinics - the drive to help others - that keeps him coming back.
“I guess we could say it’s an altruistic motive. It’s just a habit more than anything now. I’ve been doing it since I was in high school.”
Kemp, Wagner, and nine other individuals from Kentville are being recognized for their contributions on June 13 at the Honouring Canada’s Lifeline Awards ceremony in Dartmouth. The event will recognize all milestone donors, leaders in the community, and dedicated volunteers who help facilitate these sorts of functions.
Donating blood is a simple process that the Canadian Blood Services says can easily become a habitual practice. Men can donate every 56 days and women are able to donate every 84 days. The Canadian Blood Services recommends checking eligibility first by taking their brief quiz found on blood.ca before donating.
For Wagner, the easiest way to donate is with the new mobile app called GiveBlood. The app links to the eligibility test, tracks past donations, and books appointments.
Director of Donor Relations Peter MacDonald says frequent donors like Wagner and Kemp are essential in maintaining an adequate supply of blood.
“I think a lot of people aren’t aware that blood is perishable,” says MacDonald. “When people donate there are three components that we draw out. The plasma in the blood can be frozen for up to a year, the red blood cells last for 42 days, and the platelets, which are a key component for cancer treatment, perish after only seven days.”
Residents of the Valley will get several chances to attend a Mobile Donor event in the month of June. The community blood drives are meant to get people out and encourage them to become active donors.
“Every minute of every day in Canada, someone is receiving a blood transfusion. We constantly have to replenish our inventory to ensure we meet the demands of our patients and mobile events like these are a great way to make a difference in your community,” says MacDonald.
HOW TO DONATE
The tour begins in Kentville on June 6 at the Kentville Fire Hall from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., and then later in the day from 5 p.m.to 8 p.m.
The following day will have availability from noon to 3 p.m. at the same location.
The journey continues to Kingston on June 17 at their fire department from 5 p.m.to 8 p.m., and then again on June 18 from 1 p.m.- 3 p.m.
The Berwick Lions Club will host a one-day Mobile Donor event on June 19 from noon to 3 p.m., then continuing later that day from 5 p.m.to 7 p.m.
MacDonald says “it is very easy to come and donate blood at one of these events. It is recommended folks to go to blood.ca or call 1-888-2DONATE to check their eligibility first. Everyone who is eligible can make a difference in the lives of blood product recipients and hospital patients across the country.”
MacDonald was a regular donor himself before he was deferred for five years.
“I have to wait about another 10 months. I had cancer five years ago and the kind of cancer you have determines how long you have to wait to donate blood. I’m all clear now and I will be able to donate again next March. I’m looking forward to that day for sure, I have it marked on my calendar.”
Those interested in participating in one of the five Mobile Donor events can book an appointment at blood.ca or call 1-888-2DONATE, though walk-ins will also be welcomed.
“At least get out there and try it once,” Wager says. “My hope is to drum up a few new people to come and donate and who knows - maybe they turn into lifetime donors, too.”