Dottie North celebrated her 65th birthday by hosting a party at the Canadian Blood Services’ Red Deer donor centre Thursday. North was joined by Red Deer County Coun. Philip Massier, dressed up as Santa Claus, and Caitlyn Cottam, dressed as an elf. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff

Red Deer woman has blood donation birthday party

A Red Deer woman decided the best way to spend her 65th birthday was to help save lives.

Dottie North hosted a blood donation birthday party at the Red Deer Canadian Blood Services donor clinic Thursday. The goal of the party was to bring her friends and family together to make 65 donations.

North donates blood every three months, which is as often as a woman can donate. She said there isn’t a particular reason why donating is so important to her.

“My sister has had several surgeries, and every time, she’s ended up taking a little bit of blood. For her, it was important to pay that back, but she’s had a hard time donating – maybe once or twice a year is all she could donate,” said North.

“She was trying to pay back all the blood she used, so I said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ve got you.’ I started donating years ago and that’s really all it is. I don’t know anybody whose life was saved by it.

“I know this time of year, whenever I hear of an accident on the road – people trying to get home for Christmas – it just breaks my heart that there’s a family going through stuff. I just hope to raise awareness and get more people in here.”

North’s donation on Thursday was her 78th.

“Less than four per cent (of people) who are eligible to donate actually do, and I get it: people are afraid of the needle. But you’ve just got to try it a few times. The needle is not as big as you think it is. Just don’t look,” said North.

Canadian Blood Services territory manager Marissa Stryker said regular donors like North are “so appreciated” and needed.

“Everyone is so busy with Christmas and the holidays, and we really need to highlight why it’s important to not only book appointments, but to keep appointments too.

“We understand it gets busy around the holiday time, but the need for blood is constant – it never takes a break. Patients really do need the support,” said Stryker.

Canadian Blood Services also has monthly goals for getting new donors in as well, Stryker added.

“For our regular donors who come in all the time, sometimes they get (taken) off the list, whether it’s because they’re travelling or they get a new tattoo or piercing; there are many things that make people ineligible temporarily.

“Our donor base is always changing, so as those people phase out for a short amount of time, or possibly forever, we need new people coming in to refresh our donor base as well,” she said.

Stryker said the eligibility criteria for blood donation changes often, so if someone wasn’t able to donate in the past, they may be able to donate now.

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Marissa Stryker and Dottie North stand in front of the birthday cake at North’s 65th birthday part at Canadian Blood Services Red Deer donor centre Thursday. Photo by SEAN MCINTOSH/Advocate staff

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