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Penticton  

Blood donor does #150

Colton Davies

If you're thinking of donating blood and need an extra push, you should probably speak to Penticton resident John Rawkins.

Rawkins was recently honoured with a certificate from Canadian Blood Services for donating 150 times.

He says he first donated when he was 16 years old at the Penticton Legion Hall — more than 55 years ago. 

"I've given about three times a year on average. But when I lived in Vancouver I used to give every eight weeks, religiously, because it was so easy to go. Every eighth Saturday I'd go."

Donating blood is a no-brainer for Rawkins; when he was a toddler his mother was hospitalized in North Vancouver due to health issues, needing a blood transfusion.

"She had a special type of blood, so it was very hard to get that blood, but they did," he said. "I didn't see her for a year, which was quite a traumatic event... But my mother went on to live to 100, so she did very well."

Down the family line, Rawkins' daughter spent a year-and-a-half in B.C. Children's Hospital in the 1980s when she had a virus in her esophagus. 

"She had to have blood products as well. It was quite upsetting at the time, but she now is a happy mother of two children up in Kamloops."

Rawkins was at the Penticton Senior's Drop-in Centre on Tuesday, where dozens of people visited the mobile clinic set up to donate blood — including Mayor Andrew Jakubeit and Coun. Helena Konanz.

There's an extra spotlight since it's National Blood Donor Week, but Gayle Voyer with Canadian Blood Services pointed out the mobile clinic is at the senior's centre every four weeks. She expects more than 200 donors will give blood in the two days they're set up this week. 

"We need over 5,500 in B.C. before July 1... the need for blood never goes away, the need is constant," Voyer says.

Donors give 450 millilitres of blood at the free clinics, and can do so every eight weeks. They need to be age 17 or older.

"You may need it, your family may need it. I think it's very important," Rawkins says. "It's one thing you can volunteer with that's a minimum amount of work, an hour every eight weeks."



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