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

Peace Walk fundraiser for hospice runs on Sunday

Take a walk, have a snack, and help donate to a local charity

Thousands attend 31st TD Art Gallery Paint-In

Artists display their work along 20 blocks of Moss Street

City of Victoria joins national food waste reduction program

The City is partnering in the Love Food, Hate Waste Program

Details scarce as union confirms probe underway involving Victoria care homes

Island Health, VicPD offer no comment on report of investigation into alleged sexual assaults

Swimmer set for double crossing of Georgia Strait

Jill Yoneda’s Aug. 3 swim will benefit Canuck Place

Here’s what you need to know about Day 2 at the BC Games

From equestrian to volleyball to swimming, all 18 events in full swing here in the Cowichan Valley

Brush fire breaks out west of Port Alberni

Fire forces partial closure of Highway 4 heading to Ucluelet and Tofino

Accident on Vancouver Island after artillery gun rolls down hill and damages taxi

Witness says accident happend about 1 p.m. Saturday; RCMP investigating

B.C. mining company, involved in 2014 spill, ordered to pay lost wages

Mount Polley Mining Company must pay wages to 26 employees who were laid off without proper notice

Two significant wildfires burning in southeastern B.C.

More than 20 fires were burning in the Southeast Fire Centre as of Saturday afternoon

Volunteers provide the glue that keeps BC Games moving

The 2018 Cowichan Summer Games had more than 2,300 volunteers on hand across Vancouver Island

No Name brand chicken nuggets recalled due to possible salmonella

Canadian Food Inspection Agency says multiple illnesses reported in B.C., Alberta and Ontario

Lodeiro scores twice to help Sounders beat Whitecaps 2-0

Seattle’s Nicolas Lodeiro opened the scoring in the fifth minute when he converted a penalty kick

Most Read