Lea Kyle celebrates her 100th blood donation at a blood door clinic at the Campbell River Community Centre in January. The next clinic is Feb. 28 - March 2 and Kyle encourages others to attend and help save a life.

Campbell River blood donor: ‘You never know who you’re going to save’

A long-time Campbell River blood donor encourages as many people as possible to donate blood and attend a donor clinic

Blood. It’s in you to give.

It’s a motto that Canadian Blood Services has been championing for years. It’s also one that Campbell River resident Lea Kyle whole-heartedly believes in.

“Their slogan – it’s in you to give – it’s just so obvious,” says Kyle who has been donating blood for more than 30 years and recently gave her 100th blood donation.

For Kyle, attending the blood donor clinics when they come to Campbell River is so important that she schedules her life around the days the clinics come to town.

To Kyle, donating blood is a natural.

“You go and you realize it’s so simple,” Kyle says. “It’s an hour out of your life every few months so it’s not a big deal and they say you potentially save three lives every time you donate. It seems like such an easy thing to do.”

Kyle first attended a blood donor clinic when she was in university and she’s kept at it ever since. On Jan. 4, when the blood donor clinic was last in Campbell River, Kyle gave her 100th donation. She received a commemorative pin to mark the milestone and was invited to attend a thank-you function sometime next year.

“Some day a family member or close friend may need a blood donation but if not, there’s a ton of people out there who could use it,” Kyle says. “I would encourage people to go donate. You never know who you’re saving.”

That’s a message that Layne Marshal, who volunteers at the Campbell River donor clinics, has been trying to spread as donations have been on the decline locally.

“Basically what’s happening since 2008 is the annual success rate started in the high 90 per cent but over the next eight years it’s slowly dropped to the low 90s,” Marshal says. “In the last little bit it’s dropped to the high 80 range.”

At the last blood donor clinic, which ran from Jan. 3-5 at the Community Centre, 253 units of blood were collected which fell short of the 287 unit target (88 per cent). A total of 297 people attended the clinic, a slight decrease from the 327 donors who attended the previous clinic Nov. 8-10 of last year.

Marshal, who has been donating blood routinely for decades – since he was a freshman in college – says he began attending blood donor clinics because his father was a regular donor. At that time, he was living in the United States and donating blood made you $25 a pint.

“I’ve been doing it for a long time and it’s been a part of me,” says Marshal, which is why he made the decision to not only attend the Campbell River clinics but volunteer and help recruit other donors, particularly after what he witnessed at a recent clinic.

“There was a stretch of time on a Wednesday afternoon when all the volunteers were sitting around, twiddling their thumbs, the intake area was empty and all the beds were empty,” he says. “I thought, ‘this is stupid, we have enough people in this town, we should be able to fill these beds non-stop.’”

Since then, when the clinics are in town, sandwich boards are put up downtown and in Mariner’s Square to draw attention to the clinic’s presence and a banner is put up at the Community Centre where all the clinics are held.

The clinics come to Campbell River every 56 days. The next one happens to be this week, and runs from Feb. 28-March 2. The clinic returns April 25-27.

Marshal says the process of donating blood is relatively simple. Donors can pre-register online or when they leave a previous clinic. Once you are signed in, donors are screened to ensure their blood is healthy.

The process of actually giving blood depends on the person, with some people taking only four or five minutes, while others are there “substantially longer” he says, up to perhaps 15 minutes.

Then, donors are treated to complimentary cookies and juice.

It’s a voluntary measure that Marshal feels passionately about.

“When you hear about people who have been in automobile accidents and they go to the hospital – they need blood. When you hear or read about or see children in hospitals getting cancer treatments or surgery, they need blood,” Marshal says.

He knows how important blood donors are. A good friend has had several surgeries in recent years, all requiring blood transfusions.

“I have seen the benefits,” he says.

And as Kyle says, you never know who you may be saving.

For more information or to book an appointment at the next Campbell River blood donor clinic, visit: blood.ca/Donate