Donating blood is called a life-saving gift, but for Crystal Mackill that marketing slogan was her reality.
Her son Wyatt required open heart surgery nine days after he was born, and it was donated blood that allowed that operation to be carried out.
Today, Wyatt is a happy two-year-old, having survived surgery to transpose his two great arteries, a rare heart defect present at birth in which the two main arteries leaving the heart are reversed.
That reversal, or transposition, changes the way blood circulates through the body, leaving a shortage of oxygen in blood flowing from the heart to the rest of the body.
Without an adequate supply of oxygen-rich blood, the body can’t function properly.
Wyatt was at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on Tuesday as his mom donated blood, part of the Canadian Blood Services campaign challenge: Saving Lives This Summer.
Mackill, a Kelowna RCMP dispatcher, said it was the second time she has donated blood in her life, something she challenges more people to do.
“It’s not hard to do. I was surprised how easy it was…about an hour of your time and you’re done,” Mackill said.
Tammie Watson, spokesperson for Canadian Blood Services, said blood donors in Kelowna tend to range in age from 40 to 60, a reflection of the older population demographics in the city.
But she says a person can start donating blood at age 17. “Our seniors are very dedicated,” said Watson, citing one person who has donated blood more than 400 times.
“But obviously we’d like to get more people who are younger and able to donate. For seniors, there comes a point where they can no longer donate due to their own health or medications they might be on that disqualifies them as blood donors,” Watson said.
The current blood donor campaign runs until Aug. 31. The Kelowna blood donor clinic estimates it needs to collect about 1,600 donations to meet the needs of hospital patients.
For more information, check out the website www.blood.ca or visit the blood donor clinic at 103-1865 Dilworth Dr.