“I always get asked the same question by the screening nurse at the blood donor clinic – ‘How long are you going to keep donating?’” they ask.
Her answer is the same every time – “for as long as you will take my blood.”
Daphne Hale has been a lab technologist in histology at Grand River Hospital since 2004. Before she worked here, she worked at the Animal Health Laboratory at the University of Guelph doing histology and hematology, where she did some interesting things like screening for Bovine Spongiform Encephalitis (more commonly known as “mad cow disease”).
But that’s not the only reason she’s familiar with screening, as she’s had her fair share of screening as a big-time blood donor.
Since she was 17 years old, Daphne has donated a whopping 115 units of blood – that’s over 50 litres! She feels so strongly about it, she even got a symbolic tattoo to start the conversation with people she meets.
You’ve donated an incredible 115 units of blood to Canadian Blood Services – why is it so important to donate blood? What made you decide to donate for the first time?
When I was in high school, I worked for a veterinarian who was such an incredible role model for me. He took me for my first time to donate blood shortly after my 17th birthday (which is the required age for first time donors).
It was at a mobile clinic at a racetrack in Barrie. Back then, you lay in lawn chairs when you donated.
How long have you been donating for? How often would you say you donate blood?
I’ve actually been giving regularly since then, at first relying only on mobile clinics.
I’m very grateful for the permanent clinics we have now with the comfortable reclining chairs.
I have only had a few breaks when I didn’t donate either during a pregnancy, tattoo or just recently a bout of anemia. I now take an iron supplement and all is well!
What do you think is a common fear or misconception for people who have never donated blood before?
I think that people who have never donated fear that it will hurt too much, or that they will feel sick or tired afterwards.
If I could give one piece of advice to a non- or first-time blood donor, it would be to let them know that any pain or discomfort that they may feel during the donation is definitely overridden by the satisfaction of literally saving lives.
Working in a hospital setting where there is a constant need for blood supply, do you ever promote blood donation to colleagues or visitors while you’re at work?
I got a tattoo after my 100th blood donation, and ironically I had to take a 6-month break from giving (which I still feel a little guilty about). My tattoo says “Give” and the ‘i’ is actually a blood drop.
I’ve found it’s been really useful for starting discussions with people, not just here in the hospital but everywhere, about the importance of giving.
My hope is that there is always enough blood for those who need it, so I think it’s great to encourage people to donate.
Is there a connection there between the work that you do and the need to donate?
We have a lot of cases in histology from the cancer centre, and behind many of those cases are patients who need blood and blood products. It is a daily reminder to me of the imminent need in our community. Histology is also next door to the blood bank!
Do you think registering for organ donation is equivalent or just as important as blood donation?
It’s definitely just as important!
My father had a liver transplant when he was 59 years old. He lived another 14 years after the transplant and we were so incredibly grateful to his donor and their family.
I have made my wishes known to my family (that’s very important), as well as becoming registered online as an organ donor.
I have also registered to be a bone marrow donor if a match comes up – that’s easily done with a mouth swab.
If you are interested in donating blood or learning more about blood donations and how you can help, please visit www.blood.ca or call 1-888-2-DONATE (1-888-236-6283).
If you are interested in registering as an organ donor, please visit www.beadonor.ca.