David Laing first gave blood when he was 17 and on Tuesday, at age 70, he was recognized for having donated more than 200 times during his life.
Laing was the only person who reached the 200-unit mark at Canadian Blood Service’s annual Honouring Our LifeBlood event in Red Deer to recognize Central Albertans who achieved significant milestone donations in 2016.
“When you look at the bigger picture, 200 units of blood isn’t so much. (Canadian Blood Services) need 150,000 units of blood this summer across Canada. All of a sudden my 200 units of blood is a drop in the bucket, but it does represent a lifetime’s worth of blood,” said Laing, of Red Deer, at the event at Radisson Hotel.
He said he kept donating blood because it was just the right thing to do.
“It really appealed to my sense of philanthropy. It’s about giving of self. It’s completely anonymous. The person that gets my blood doesn’t have the faintest idea who I am and never will and that’s kind of the way it should be.”
The year he reached 150 units, he did consider quitting. Then he talked to the man providing refreshments to donors after they gave blood.
“The guy serving tea said he had a kidney transplant and he personally used 100 units of blood. My 150 wasn’t a big deal anymore.”
That’s when he decided to continue until he reached 200.
Laing, who turns 71 in two weeks, said he’s put off taking medication for a few years that would have made him ineligible to donate. Next week he will donate blood for the last time.
Liam Larratt, 12, of Pine Lake, is one of the recipients people like Laing have helped.
Two years ago Liam was diagnosed with aplastic anemia, a condition that prevents the body from producing enough blood cells.
“Some of the blood products he’s received take 15,000 donors to do one vial. So it’s pretty incredible, the people that have come together to save his life,” said Liam’s mom Evonne.
She said when he was really sick Liam would receive transfusions three or four times a week. Throughout his treatment he received over 300 transfusions.
“Every time he’d get a transfusion I’d look at that bag of blood and thank whoever that was who took the time to donate.”
Last June Liam received a bone marrow transplant. By August he no longer required red blood cells or platelets, and two months ago he no longer needed any blood product.
She said blood donors gave Liam and her family an incredible gift.
“I don’t think people really realize as they give how vital it is. It wasn’t to just make him feel better. It was to keep him alive.”
For more information or book an appointment visit www.blood.ca.