Elgin woman marks milestone 150th blood donation in Perth

June 12, 2018 by
Local Hero: Marilyn Garret makes her 150th blood donation on June 11th, in Perth.

Local Hero: Marilyn Garret makes her 150th blood donation on June 11th, in Perth.

When she was in her late teens Marilyn Garret’s mother underwent major surgery and needed several units of blood.  That need prompted Garret to make her first donation, and she never stopped.

“It’s easy, it only takes one hour of your time every two to three months and it helps so much the people who need it,” said Garret.

On Monday June 11, Garret drove down to Perth with a group of friends and family to make her 150th donation at the Perth Civitan Blood Donor Clinic to mark Blood Donor week.

“This is an important clinic for us,”said Debbie Barfoot, territorial manager, Canadian Blood Services.  “Now instead of six clinics a year, we do nine clinics because it’s been so successful, there are a lot of donors for a community this size.”

Many donors come from other nearby communities, Garret drove from Elgin and has been donating at clinics all over the county for the past 53 years, a tradition she has passed on to her children.

Among her group were her son and daughter Andrew and Susan Harrison who have grown up watching their mother make regular blood donations.  Andrew was making his 66th donation.

“I started in my late teens,” said Andrew, whose blood type is O negative, making him a universal donor because his blood can be given to most patients in need, regardless of their blood type. “If you’re O negative that can help a lot of people and as long as you’re Ok with it, why not give it a try,” said Andrew.

Men can give blood more often than women, and women are more often turned away because of low levels of iron, but that hasn’t stopped Susan.

“I started donating as soon as I could, partly because I watched my mom donate and because it’s an easy way to save lives,” she said as she helped herself to a cookie after her 13th donation.

There is a tremendous need for blood all year round, but certain times of the year are more critical than others.

“The summer is a difficult time, there’s increased travel and that means a higher percentage of accidents, and fewer people donating,” said Barfoot.

In addition blood doesn’t have a long shelf life.  Platelets only last seven days, so the need for donors never stops.

The Perth clinic is one of the busier clinics thanks to partnerships with the town, local businesses and St. John’s Catholic High School.