A Kelowna man donated blood on Thursday, for the 500th time.
“This is a very elite group,” says Alana MacKay, an employee for the Canadian Blood Services.
“It’s an important milestone.”
An event was held Thursday afternoon at the Kelowna branch of CBS honoring Ken’s accomplishment. It was attended by Mayor Walter Gray, close friends and staff members of CBS who have gotten to know him over the years.
Ken Davies first donated blood on April 29, 1960 and has seen many changes to the system since then.
“They used to have you lay down on army cots,” he says. “In the 60s they didn’t have the machinery and had to mix the blood by hand.”
“They asked your name, address, date of birth and that’s it.”
While the methods may have changed over the years, Ken’s blood remains type B-positive.
That could also be his motto.
At 70 years of age, Ken’s positive outlook has helped him to retire early, a successful international business owner, boat enthusiast and philatelist.
“I’ve always worked hard and I’ve always played hard,” he said.
“You’ve got to be positive to make things happen.”
Ken could easily pass for 60 and he attributes a portion of his good health to regular donations over the years.
“Giving is one of the healthiest things you can do. Your body goes into high gear to produce new blood and I feel great after.”
Ken wasn’t the only one donating blood during the ceremony at CBS Kelowna. Local resident and student, Amy Cochrane was there for the second time.
“I feel a little light-headed,” she says, holding a box of juice.
“I really can’t imagine doing this 498 more times.”
According to materials provided at the clinic, donors may experience minimal discomfort and some may feel dizzy or tired immediately after. This could partly account for the recent drop in blood donations but it is more likely due to a lack of awareness.
“Many people don’t know we’re here and that we do need blood regularly,” says Alana MacKay.
“(Ken Davies) commitment is certainly commendable.”
While Mr. Davies has plenty of fans at the clinic, his greatest admirers are the many people he has helped.
Darlene Heickel is a Kelowna resident, a volunteer at the clinic and a blood recipient. Her cancer treatments required multiple transfusions but she's been in remission now for two years. She jumped at the opportunity to say thanks.
“Blood donors saved my life,” she says. “The person who does it even once does a lot of good.”
For those who would like to help but are afraid of the pain, Ken has some advice.
“It really doesn’t hurt and it helps a lot of people.”
Cochrane agrees that it is important enough to endure a little discomfort.
“It’s actually easier than I expected,” she said. “Everyone should try it once and see how it goes. It’s worth it.”
The clinic accepts donations from anyone between the ages of 17 and 71, and since Ken turns 71 in April, policy of the CBS dictates that he can only continue with a doctor’s recommendation.
“My next goal is 600,” he said, undeterred. “I’ve already booked my next appointment.”
To learn more about the process of blood donation or to book an appointment yourself, visit the Canadian Blood Services website.