More than 100 donors give blood at clinic

Val Walker helps Brad Buss donate blood for the 77th time

Val Walker helps Brad Buss donate blood for the 77th time

By CHARLES TWEED

Their motto is “It’s in you to give,” and on Jan. 19 Ponoka residents showed up in droves to help the Canadian Blood Services.

A group from the Canadian Blood Services out of Red Deer hosts the clinic with the help of a local service group. The team sets up a satellite clinic — with the help of the Kinnettes this time — once every eight weeks in town and says the turnout in Ponoka is outstanding.

“We have 150 appointments booked for today, so it kind of depends a bit weather wise, but we’ll probably get over 100 today,” said Jeanette Lawrence, a donor services representative who kicked off the clinic by singing a song of thanks to the donors that got everyone laughing and put them at ease.

The clinic begins by checking the iron levels of all the donors — an important step to determine whether someone is able to donate. If iron levels are below 125 grams per litre, volunteers are not allowed to donate due to personal health risks. Next, they speak with a nurse and then it’s time to sit down and begin donating.

Brad Buss was donating for the 77th time and giving blood is something that isn’t new to his family.

“My Dad used to donate and he’s probably the one who spirited me to do it. He mentioned it and then he couldn’t donate anymore because of high blood pressure, so he got out of it and that’s about the same time I got started.”

Marta Boulton is the charge nurse and she is always amazed at the support small communities demonstrate.

“Our staff sets up one of these clinics in about 45 minutes and takes it down in a half hour, so they do an excellent job every day. And we wouldn’t be able to run one of these clinics without our excellent volunteers. It’s usually a service group that helps us out and they’re a great liaison with the community – they’re part of the team.”

Each person can donate 610 grams of blood, which works out to approximately 480 millilitres. From here the blood goes to Red Deer where it undergoes cytapheresis or the process of splitting blood components.

Blood is split into three components, red blood cells, platelets, and plasma. Each component is used for a different purpose. Red blood cells, which transport oxygen and carbon dioxide, are used primarily for trauma, anemia, and other surgeries. Blood platelets are used for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. While plasma, which makes up a little more than half of blood, is used for patients having massive transfusions or burns.

“You save three lives with every donation, and only three per cent of Canadians donate and the need is continuous. Every minute someone needs blood,” said Lawrence.