Hugh Wilzewski gives the gift of life at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on Saanich Road. Wilzewski has donated blood more than 70 times in his life and says it’s a very rewarding way to spend an hour. Dan Ebenal/News Staff

Canadian Blood Services clinic a lifeline in times of crisis

Saanich clinic sees about 100 donors a day

Donors walking through the doors of the Canadian Blood Services clinic on Saanich Road know they’ll be making a big difference in the lives of people they have never met, half a litre at a time.

“I try to get in here every 56 days,” said Hugh Wilzewski as he catches up on the news while his blood is collected.

The Central Saanich man estimates he has donated more than 70 times over the course of his life.

“It’s a bit of public service,” Wilzewski says of the hour-long process involved in donating blood. “I think it’s a worthwhile civic duty, you’re helping a lot of people.”

Ann Chabert, the territory manager with Canadian Blood Services, says the Saanich clinic has a target of collecting from about 100 donors, on average, a day.

“There is no alternative. We can’t make blood. If a patient goes to the hospital in need of surgery after a car crash or there’s someone who needs cancer treatment, and there’s blood needed for almost everything,” said Chabert, adding a national inventory allows blood to be directed to region’s where it’s needed most.

“It has to be safe, it has to be available and it has to be free. And we’re the only supply in Canada.”

While Canadian Blood Services reaches out to all Canadians to make a donation, those with O- blood are particularly needed.

“They’re called the universal donors,” said Chabert. “Especially in an emergency when they don’t have time to type the blood of the patient, they use O-. That’s the easiest blood type, but it’s only seven per cent of the population. So those people get a lot of calls from us.”

The clinic at 3449 Saanich Rd. is open Tuesday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and alternating Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. On Mondays, the clinic operates a mobile donation unit that travels to communities across the South Island.

“We prefer that people make an appointment because that gives us a bit of a heads up on how the day’s going to go. Some days are busier, some hours are busier,” said Chabert. “But if you have no time and you just want to see and walk in and risk it, you’re more than welcome.”

Over the past month donors have been encouraged to fill out cards sending messages of support to cancer patients in recognition of the Canadian Cancer Society’s Daffodil campaign.

Chabert said the Saanich clinic is run through the efforts of hundreds of committed volunteers.

“We have some people who can’t donate, and that’s an alternative. If you can’t donate you can come out and volunteer.”

And Chabert has some words of comfort for those who say they’re afraid of needles.

“Just give it a try, it really is just a poke,” she said, adding the hour it takes is worth the effort. “I think that’s a [small sacrifice] to save somebody’s life.”

editor@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Overworked and understaffed: More than 300 vacancies in Vancouver Island nursing

Tentative deal with province includes ‘working short premium’ to encourage hiring

Victoria city council seeks authority to tax empty homes

Council is asking the province for the authority to invoke a vacancy tax

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes says municipality will re-group after Rowing Canada decision

Haynes said he is “quite disappointed” but also respects choice of North Cowichan as national centre

Saanich police dog tracks dangerous driver after car ditched in Oak Bay

Man may face charges of dangerous driving and mischief

Backyardigans, Max & Ruby stage shows add to Family Day in Sidney

Bodine Hall shows make room for kids to sing, dance, enjoy Family Day weekend

VIDEO: Excessive speed on the Malahat captured by dash cam footage

Poster calls driving ‘dangerous, obnoxious and disrespectful’

POLL: Should people have to license their cats?

The Victoria Natural History Society has sent letters to 13 municipalities in… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Olympian snowboarder Max Parrot diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Each year in Canada, approximately 900 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery accused of sexual assault, harassment

Emery denied the allegations, but a Toronto woman says she is not the only one speaking out

Vancouver Island photographer makes National Geographic’s 2018 elite

Rare double honour for Marston from the 36 best Your Shots out of nearly 19,000 photos

Ex-Liberal candidate in Burnaby, B.C., says volunteer wrote controversial post

Karen Wang dropped out following online post singling out NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s ethnicity

Asteroids are smacking Earth twice as often as before

The team counted 29 craters that were no older than 290 million years

Canada’s arrest of Huawei exec an act of ‘backstabbing,’ Chinese ambassador says

China has called Canada’s arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou ‘politically motivated’

Most Read