Kelowna city Coun. Luke Stack grimaces as the needle goes in during his visit to the Canadian Blood Services Clinic in Kelowna Monday to give blood to help mark the local kick-off to National Blood Donor Week

National blood donour week kicks off in the Okanagan

Canadian Blood Services says summer is one of the times of highest demand times for blood

Gordon Leverington has given blood so many times, he has lost track of the number of donations.

Officially – with Canadian Blood Services — he has made his 165 donations, with his latest on Monday to help kick off National Blood Donor Week in Kelowna.

“But it’s probably more like 300 because I used to donate with the Red Cross but they lost all my records,” laughed the 77-year-old Kelowna man when asked about his prolific donation record.

Leverington, who said he started giving blood as a teenager, said he shows up to donate every 56 days—the minimum waiting period allowed between donations.

And why does it he still do it after all these years? For the same reason he started, he says: “Because it has to be done. There’s a real need.”

Leverington said he will continue to donate as long as he is healthy and the CSB will take his blood.

And there is no shortage of recipients who need donors like Leverington.

According to CSB, only four per cent of Canadians donate blood but half of all Canadians will either need a blood transfusion sometime in their life or know someone who will.

It is estimated that CSB needs to find 100,000 new donors just to meet the growing demand.

Those gathered at the Kelonwa clinic heard from Dan Maja, whose daughter was diagnosed with leukaemia two years ago and has had countless transfusion as she battles her illness.

“Blood is crucial,” said Maja. “It has given my daughter her life back.”

He said he started donating at the CSB clinic in Children’s Hospital in Vancouver when his daughter, now 16, first went there. And he will continue to do so, not just for his child but for everyone else who needs blood.

While there are steps that have to be taken for the screening of patients and a questionnaire to be filled out, the actual process of giving blood is painless and quick said the donors on hand Monday.

Anyone interested in learning more about becoming a blood donor can do so by contacting CSB at either 1-888-2-DONATE or on the web at blood.ca.

National Blood Donor Week runs June 8-14 and this year, donors are being encouraged to tell the world via social media about their donation using the hashtag #sharemore.