Kianna Shwaluk, 17, donated blood for the first time last October and has another appointment at the upcoming clinic at the end of the month. Photo by Jocelyn Doll/Campbell River Mirror

First time blood donor conquers fear of needles

Kianna Shwaluk donated blood for the first time not long after she turned 17, the minimum age requirement to donate blood.

“I’m scared to death of needles, I hate them, so it was really nerve wracking… I was really scared,” she said.

But after a small amount of pain, “just a little pinch, that’s it,” she said, it was fine, she couldn’t feel a thing.

Shwaluk booked an appointment at the blood donor clinic in October, and now, 12 weeks later, she has appointment at the clinic at the Campbell River Community Centre coming Jan. 30, 31 and Feb. 1.

Shwaluk became interested in donating blood after seeing a photo of her cousin donating blood in memory of a friend on social media.

“It’s kind of just always been in the back of my mind,” she said. “I love giving back to my community and just giving back in general.”

One unit of donated blood is 450 mL, and on average an adult has about five litres of blood in their body.

However blood can only be stored for so long, so Canadian Blood Services needs returning donors to keep their inventory levels where they want them to be.

According to their website, their goal is to have 30,000 units of blood in their inventory and they have had less than 20,000 since Sept. 28 at least.

For some perspective, according to Canadian Blood Services a person having heart surgery may need up to five units of blood, which is blood from five donors. A car crash victim might need up to 50 units of blood, or donations for 50 donors. People fighting leukemia could need up to eight units of blood every week, and those battling other types of cancer could need up to five units of blood.

Shwaluk said she spent around an hour at the clinic as a first time donor, but it will be faster the next time around. And as well as a blanket to keep you comfortable you’ll get a cookie after you donate.

“They have really good snacks,” Shwaluk said with a laugh.

For more information on how to donate blood and if you are eligible, or to book a clinic appointment, go to blood.ca or call 1-888-2-DONATE (1-888-236-6283).