Letters - Be a donor



Neepawa Banner & Press

Only 3.7 per cent of Canadians are blood donors yet 100 percent are potential recipients. What motivates people to be a blood donor?

For me, my father, Reuben Zettler, provided the example. In 1936 he donated blood so a 5 year old relative could live. Walter Zettler was a sick little boy. His parents took him to the family doctor, Dr Otoole, in Walkerton, Ontario, who had him transferred to Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto. Doctors there determined he had meningitis and required a blood transfusion.

A problem arose. Walter had a rare blood type and there was no record of anyone with that type at any Toronto or area hospital. They called back to Dr Otoole and gave him the arduous task of calling in all relatives to get tested for their blood type as this held the best possibility of finding a donor-parents, immediate family, aunts and uncles on both sides and cousins. When they got to my dad, a second cousin, prayers were answered. He was a match.

Dad hitched a ride to Toronto on a cattle truck the next day and made his way to Sick Children’s Hospital where a unit of blood was given to Walter. He came back as directed the following day and a second unit was given. The third day he came back, Walter’s condition had stabilized, no donation required. When he came back the fourth day Walter’s condition had improved – my dad could go home.

Today Walter is 86 years old and lives in Walkerton. He had an active life as a Bruce County farmer and is now retired. The results of my father’s donation inspired many family members to be blood donors. I just made my 100th donation. For our family of 9, 8 are able to donate. Our oldest, Mary has donated 112 times. She also coordinates a monthly blood drive at the office where she works in Winnipeg. Our youngest, Daniel has donated 31 times.

Knowing a relative benefited from my father’s donation is  a powerful motivator-but really we all know somebody that needed a transfusion due to an accident, sickness or an operation. They live thanks to an anonymous donor. I hope all who read this will consider being a blood donor if not already one.

Today donation is convenient-you don’t have to make a 240 mile round trip and be away four days as my dad did in 1936. If you are reasonably healthy and 18 or older call Canadian Blood Services at 1 888 2DONATE(1 888 236 6283) and get the details on donating or better still book an appointment. Give so someone can live.

Bill Zettler

Portage la Prairie