By Jensen, Randy on April 24, 2020.
For The Herald
A Lethbridge man who has been a regular blood donor nearly all his life did not let the COVID-19 pandemic stop him from giving his 220th pint of blood last week. Rob Stanko, 65, first donated blood when he was a teenager and has been doing it regularly ever since.
“I guess I am a goal-oriented kind of person. I wrote down a saying one time ‘the accomplishment is directly proportional to the challenge’… If I could do 40 (pints of blood), I could maybe do another 20 more – I would set another challenge for myself,” said Stanko.
Canada Blood Services has urged people to continue donating blood to prevent a shortage throughout the pandemic. Stanko said donating in these times was different from normal. He stood in line outside the donor clinic, socially distancing, and had to confirm he is healthy before being allowed to donate. He was asked about recent travel and his health.
“That’s my first time I ever donated during a pandemic. There were quite a few people out there actually. Everything that was done through the blood services, I think, was very safe and very professional,” he said. “The only thing (is), we didn’t stand six feet apart when putting the needle in. That would have been tricky.”
Stanko said he does not like to brag, but this donation was a milestone he is proud of. When he was young, he looked up to people who reached similar milestones.
“It’s just something you do to help fellow Canadians,” he said.
Before Stanko was a year old, he received a blood transfusion when he was suffering from chickenpox and eczema. Though he was too young to remember, he said he is grateful for donors and it helped inspire him to donate regularly.
“I’m not the only person around who has donated blood, there are a lot of other people. I do appreciate, if there is a demand when you do need it, it will be there for you. That’s really important,” he said.
Stanko would like to encourage people to donate blood who have not done it before. He says by giving blood, you are giving something back to your community. His advice to people who may want to donate for the first time is that it is easy. He said he felt good about his first time donating blood and plans to continue.
“If I am still healthy, I’d still like to keep going. Maybe I can get another 15 or 20 (pints of blood) in there yet,” said Stanko.