June 14th, 2024

Plasma donor approaching century milestone

By Dale Woodard on June 16, 2021.

Submitted photo - As National Blood Donor Week is celebrated this week, Coaldale's Mark Dyck is approaching his 100th donation.

It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
And for 20 years, Mark Dyck has been happy to keep donating it.
This week is National Blood Donor Week, celebrating donors that have taken an active role becoming a partner in Canada’s lifeline.
In Lethbridge, donors continue to line up and give since the plasma donor centre opened last December with more than 1,400 people coming forward for a lifesaving plasma donation, even in a time of pandemic.
However, Dyck has been giving the gift of life for longer than that and while this week honours all donors, the Coaldale resident is closing in on a milestone of his own.
“I’m donating number 99 this week,” said Dyck. “I give when I can. As long as I’m giving plasma I can give a little more often.”
Dyck began donating blood approximately 20 years ago.
“I was working in a shop and the guy that was next to me was sick and needed to get blood transfusions all the time,” he said. “When he told me that I started donating as regularly as I could. That was when we were living somewhere else and I was giving whole blood.
“For me, the donation is purely something I can do for somebody else. It doesn’t cost me anything and I love to do that to serve other people. I go into Lethbridge, they hook me up to the machine, they take (the plasma) and somebody uses it who needs it.”
With National Blood Donor Week gearing up this week, the word is being spread about the importance of getting hooked up.
“It’s important because the blood is needed and the plasma that we collect in Lethbridge is needed for everybody all the time, for accidents or people that need it in surgery and all sorts of things,” said Dyck. “I didn’t know how important it was to give until you start giving it. It seems there is always a big need, whether or not you hear about it all the time or whether or not you know exactly what they use the blood or the plasma for. It seems once you give and start talking to people about it the stories start (about) how someone’s daughter needed it when they were born or they needed it when they were in an accident or their dad needed it when he was in treatment. There seems to be an endless need for blood.”
Plasma is a protein-rich liquid in blood that helps other blood components circulate throughout the body.
Donated plasma is used to produce medications that treat patients with a variety of life-threatening conditions such as immune deficiency, bleeding disorders, liver diseases and many types of cancers.
The process of donating plasma takes about 75 minutes for Dyck.
“I’m a regular giver, so I know how to prepare myself. It’s easy. You can go online and book or you can get the app and book. If you’re a first-time donor you can phone in and they’ll book you. It’s super-easy because now everything is by appointment and you don’t really have to wait. You go in, you give, they give you snacks and you leave.”
As for anybody nervous or unsure about donating, Dyck suggested calling somebody who has donated or getting a friend to go with them.
In fact, the whole process can be a social setting.
“You don’t have to sit there quietly,” said Dyck. “You can sit and talk to the person sitting next to you. It’s laid back and they do a great job. There’s no risk of getting sick, everything is sterile. Just try it once. If you try it one time, you’ve benefitted somebody along the line.”
As for preparation for donating, Dyck said he drinks a lot of water the day before and the morning of his appointment.
“Make sure you have a meal before you go so that you’re ready,” he said. “But even in the morning I cut back on coffee, drink more water and make sure I eat breakfast and I have no problem.”
As he closes in on triple digits for donations, Dyck said he plans to make donation 100 a group event.
“On Friday will be my 99th, so for my 100th I’m going to try and book five or 10 spots and see if I can bring some friends to donate.”
But once he hits donation number 100, Dyck won’t stop there.
“I’m going to keep donating,” he said. “I have three sons I’m going to eventually try to get donating, they’re not quite old enough. I want this to be something that continues. The need for blood will never end and I want to continue to give.”
Appointments are available and plasma donors in Lethbridge can pre-book their plasma donation appointments by visiting blood.ca or calling 1-888-2DONATE.
The donor centre is located at 10-3735 Mayor Magrath Drive South and the hours of operation are Tuesday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

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