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Central Albertan sets world record for whole blood donations

Josephine Michaluk will make her 203rd donation Sept. 30
Josephine Michaluk has earned several pins from Canadian Blood Services for the 200-plus whole blood donations she had made since 1965. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

The first time Josephine Michaluk donated blood was in 1965.

“I happened to go visit my sister in Calgary and she was about donate blood that night,” the 76-year-old Penhold woman recalled.

“I said, ‘Well I can go with you, can’t I?’ She said, ‘Sure. You can donate too if you’d like.’ I said, ‘I think I will.’ I’ve been doing it ever since.”

On Sept. 30, at Canadian Blood Services in Red Deer, Michaluk will make her 203rd whole blood donation. This will be the new Guinness World Record for women’s whole blood donations.

“It’s hard to believe that more women haven’t done it,” said Michaluk.

“You can’t donate when you’re pregnant, so there go nine months for sure. You can’t donate the year after too and I had four kids – all girls – so there I lost about eight years.

“I’ve had different surgeries over the years too and you can’t donate for a year after surgery. My thyroid was so screwed up, it took three years away from my ability to donate.”

Michaluk determined if she never had to take breaks from donating blood, she would be at 281 donations by now.

Michaluk’s daughter Catherine Brownlee reached out to Guinness about the record recently.

“After the 200th (donation), Catherine said, ‘Mom that’s got to be a record.’ I knew it was a record in Red Deer,” Michaluk said.

“Catherine was on her computer and looked it up. She said, ‘Mom the record is (117) from a woman in India. I said, ‘Holy shoot!’”

When Michaluk first started donating blood, women were able to make donations every eight weeks. But now, women can only donate every 12 weeks.

“My blood is helping somebody somewhere. They’re always needing it,” Michaluk said, adding she encourages others to donate as well.

Michaluk lived in Spruce View for years and would donate in Innisfail. But at the time, she would only be able to donate twice a year there.

“That wasn’t good enough. I wanted to donate more than that,” she said.

“I started coming into Red Deer. Then 14 years ago I moved to Penhold and it was a lot closer to Red Deer, which made it easier.”

Donating blood makes Michaluk feel alive, she said.

“I always have so much energy after (donating). Jeepers, I can just give ‘er,” said Michaluk.

“I painted all of the walls in my house last year after a donation. I just go like a Duracell bunny after donating. I have so much energy for days.

“My husband, when he was alive, he’d say, ‘Are you ever coming to bed?’ But I’d be cleaning the lights or something. If there was something to do, I’d be doing it.”

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Sean McIntosh

About the Author: Sean McIntosh

Sean joined the Red Deer Advocate team in the summer of 2017. Originally from Ontario, he worked in a small town of 2,000 in Saskatchewan for seven months before coming to Central Alberta.
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