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Calgarian reaches 1,000 blood and blood product donations with Canadian Blood Services

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It's a weekly routine for Nick Finn to head to the Canadian Blood Services donation centre in Eau Claire Market to donate plasma.

He's a regular, and on Tuesday, reached a milestone of 1,000 donations.

"I was doing whole blood for maybe 40 years and I've been donating for 56 years," said Finn. "It's just nice to be able to help people, and that's what you try and do in this world, is help people in any little way you can. Like they say, 'it's in you to give.'"

Finn's first donation was when he was 18 and living in the United Kingdom, attending the University of Oxford. Its turned into a life long routine to continue to give.

"If I can do it, pretty much anybody can do it," he said. "There's very few limitations really, some people are not comfortable with a needle, but you don't have to even look at the needles, it's really just a matter of sitting here pumping your hand and it just comes out."

Jhoanna Del Rosario is the territory manager with Canadian Blood Services and says the organization is grateful for donors like Finn, especially during the holiday season.

Del Rosario says the donation centre has 2,500 open appointments in the month of December.

"Every minute of every day someone in Canada will need blood and blood products," she said. "It can be someone with leukemia, cancer patients, those needing surgical procedures, blood disorders – so that's why we're always constantly looking for blood donors."

Canadian Blood Services needs about 100,000 new donors every year across the country in order to meet the demand.

Because Canadian Blood Services has lost close to 30,000 regular blood donors in the past two years, the organization says it needs new donors to step up and fill the gap.

"Our patients in the hospital do not take a holiday," Del Rosario said. "They're constantly looking for blood donors, so that's why we're asking the community to actually give the gift of life this holiday season and make blood donation part of their giving."

Ken Grove is another long-time donor with 1,506 donations under his belt.

He says while it's nice to recognize his many donations, it's important to celebrate people's first donations, especially when there's such a need for blood products over the holiday season.

"I've come to discover that less than two per cent of Canadians donate," said Grove. "Do you know what the percentages of people that need blood is? It's 100 per cent. So if you're in an accident and your arm is on the table and you need blood, you're going to be thinking to yourself, 'I should have come in and donated.'"

Grove says donors start by giving whole blood every two months and then graduate to donate plasma once a week. He says all it takes is that first step to come into the clinic.

"I don't care if it's Christmas or Easter or it's a birthday or it's with all the office staff, just come in and do it," he said. "Half an hour, 20 minutes, and you're on your way."

Del Rosario says donors like Grove and Finn have helped countless patients through their lifetime of donations.

"We're very grateful and thankful for the generosity, commitment and dedication (of current donors)," she said. "We need more (like Grove and Finn) in this world and if we do that, we won't have to struggle looking for more blood donors and plasma donors to come in the door."

To learn how to donate, you can visit Canadian Blood Service's website.

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