Guelph-Humber News

Published on April 4, 2016 | by khadijah.dunn     Photography by Bryan Jones

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Canadian Blood Services wants young blood

Canadian Blood Services clinic supervisor Helen Tackaberry said that the mobile blood clinic comes to universities and colleges looking specifically for younger donors.

“A lot of our older donors who have been the main stay for us, have stopped because of health issues, because of age and things like that, so we’re always looking for new donors as other people drop off,” said Tackaberry.

To donate, Tackaberry said the process takes around one hour and students and faculty are only permitted to give one pint of blood for week of the event.

According to the Canadian Blood Services, donating one pint of blood can save up to three lives.

Tackaberry said around 100 students donated last semester, while 48 donated in the first three hours they opened this semester. She said she also expects that number to grow.

“If you’re heroic, this is one of the things that you can do. At least three lives will be affected by your donation and when you think of the good that you can do, it’s very special.”

She wanted potential donors to know it doesn’t take a lot of time to donate. At the clinic, a volunteer asks if a potential donor had traveled or gotten body modifications done in the last six months and females are asked their height and weight. This process is done so that the clinic knows the blood is usable and donors do not risk fainting while giving blood.

If they pass the short series of questioning they fill out a health questionnaire while they wait for a nurse who will check their blood pressure, temperature and review their questionnaire to confirm that they are well enough for the donating process.

“We don’t want to ever, in any way, harm one of our donors,” said Tackaberry.

Donors lie on a stretcher where they are bled and then offered snacks to maintain their blood pressure and thank them for their participation.

Tackaberry said, one blood clinic volunteer named Skip has donated blood almost 800 times and said he is not planning to stop anytime soon.

“I was actually working at clinics four years prior to my first donation and I said, ‘I’m here I might as well try it’,” said Skip, who declined giving his last name.

That was over 50 years ago, and though he said there was no specific reason as to why he does it, he gives blood every 56 days which is the required time period between donations.

Three different types of blood donations that someone could give are plasma, platelets and whole. Whole blood is used for general transfusions which is what students and faculty were donating for the event.

Skip had the chance to see how his blood was able to help someone in need.

“I was a designated donor for a hemophiliac for four and a half years. So I was donating a 600 millilitre bag of plasma twice sometimes three times a week,” he said.

As a volunteer, he said he had seen many cases where people give blood because someone in their family or close to them required blood at one point in their life.

This was the case for police foundations student, Ilana Gorban, who had given blood multiple times since finding out in high school that her friend needed monthly blood transfusions.

“She has this deficiency where she doesn’t produce hemoglobin properly and if it wasn’t for the people who donate blood she wouldn’t be alive,” said Gorban.

She said she tries to get her friends and family to donate whenever they can. She has type A positive blood which is the second most common and said though her brother has B negative, which is the second rarest blood type. He has yet to be persuaded by her to donate.

Gorban said that her and her friends in her program receive hours for volunteering to donate blood and that the posters put up around campus reminded her to register.

“Usually I make an appointment but, I’m really busy, so if there’s a clinic and I can just pop in, I’ll just do that,” said Gorban.

Students and faculty could sign up online prior to the event and pick a time suitable for them to donate on an appointment basis or just stop by when they’re free which helps to work around busy schedules and make donating easier.

Every semester, the students of Humber College and the University of Guelph-Humber can donate blood between classes as the Canadian Blood Services’ Save-a-Life campaign hosts its blood drive.

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