November 12, 2018

BY JOY STRUTHERS

A blood donation clinic held at Conestoga College’s recreation centre Jan. 19 had 71 donor appointments pre-booked and also accepted walk-ins.

Annette Strobel, the clinic supervisor, has been with Canadian Blood Services for almost 20 years and loves her job.

“It’s something I like doing because of helping others,” she said.

The staff want people to know how easy the process is and encourages everyone who can donate to come to a mobile clinic or their permanent location at 94 Bridgeport Rd. E., at Weber Street.

Appointments can be booked online at www.blood.ca or by phone at 1-888-2-DONATE.

“I usually say in the door to out the door it takes an hour. The blood donation itself only takes five to seven, maybe 10 minutes,” Strobel said.
The clinic was set up in the north gym, where the mood was light and the process was efficient. Donors came in the door to the first table to sign in and were directed smoothly through the necessary steps.

“There is an electronic questionnaire you have to do where you answer a number of health-related questions. We need to make sure that the donors are well themselves to donate for two reasons. First of all we don’t want to put their health in danger by donating blood and we don’t want to put a recipient’s health in danger,” said Strobel.

Next the donor is screened by staff and they go over the questions. They take the donor’s blood pressure and temperature to make sure they are healthy and able to donate.
They had eight beds set up in a separate area, half for people donating, and the other half for those recovering.

“Usually after they finish donating they wait for five minutes. They need to put pressure on the site where the needle was,” Strobel said. “We ask them to stay at refreshments for 10, 15 (minutes), we never push anybody out.”

Sometimes people can get a little light-headed after donating blood but staff is prepared to treat them quickly with some cool cloths and fluids. Most people are fine after donating.

“Generally, if someone comes in who’s well hydrated and has had something to eat and drink about two hours before their donation they don’t really notice anything,” said Strobel.

It is especially important for people to donate blood in the winter. There are many accidents with the winter weather and poor road conditions that increase the need for blood. Also, people may not be able to make it to their appointments to donate if the weather is poor.

“In the winter collections are usually always down,” Strobel said.

The people in the north gym who were there to donate all came for different reasons.

“It’s interesting, when I’ve talked to donors throughout my years here, there are a variety of reasons why people come. A lot of people come because they have known someone in their life who has required blood,” said Strobel.

Some people do it to give back and donors like to know they are helping someone. The unit of blood they donate can help up to three people.

The blood donated will be used within days as well, because blood only lasts about 45 days.

Benjamin Squicciarini, a Conestoga pre-service firefighter education and training student, donated blood at the clinic.

“We discussed how being a firefighter you save lives, and this was a way to do it, so we all got together and started to donate. This was my first time and just hearing that the three packets could go and save three lives was really inspiring,” he said.

Many people who donate know first-hand about the need for it because they work in a medical field or with the greater population. Some have family members and friends who needed blood, or they were taught to give by their parents.

Some were even recipients of blood themselves, like Jordan Thorne, a student in the community integration through co-operative education program.

“I’m a cancer survivor so I know what it’s like to need a blood transfusion. I want to give back to other people,” he said.

His first tumor diagnosis was 11 years ago and he has been cancer-free for seven years.

“My goal is to be a motivational speaker and inspire other people,” Thorne said.

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