Sooke resident Duane Cutrell was never afraid of needles.
He also happens to be among the few blood donors in Canada who reached 150 blood donations in a lifetime.
Cutrell, 46, looks back at the 28 years of donating blood with pride, knowing each pint of blood went towards saving a life, or perhaps several.
“I’m a giving person. I like to volunteer and help out in my community,” he said.
“It’s not scary, it’s not dangerous at all, it only takes about an hour of your time, and it’s a great way to help out your community.”
Cutrell’s journey as a blood donor dates to 1988 in Edmonton, where he started donating blood while still in high school.
“When I was 18, it was less for altruistic reasons and more to get the afternoon off school and get a bunch of sugar in my body,” Cutrell laughed.
Only, he didn’t stop there. He got the taste of the impact his blood was having, so he kept going. He made another 50 whole-blood donations, which allowed for other byproducts such as plasma and platelets. Unlike blood, which can safely be donated (and recouped) every two months, plasma and platelets are every two weeks.
It wasn’t long before he broke the 100 donation mark, and in 2004, Cutrell moved to Sooke to begin his full-time job with the Royal Canadian Navy, where he also continued to give blood. He’s also a volunteer firefighter with Sooke Fire Rescue.
Blood donation clinics happen on the base and in Sooke every two months, but if he’s feeling it, he’ll donate blood wherever.
“I go in there every two months, and if I’m feeling good that day and my blood iron’s high enough, I don’t have any problem,” Cutrell said, adding his blood is B-positive, only seven per cent of the population has it. Most commonly needed blood is O-negative, known as the universal donor.
As each pint of blood (450 milliliters) can help between one and four people, Cutrell may have helped somewhere between 450 and 600 people, a milestone few ever reach in their lifetime, said David Patterson, director of donor relations for the Canadian Blood Services B.C. and Yukon region.
“We’re thrilled when donors hit a milestone like this, it really shows their commitment to supporting Canadian patients,” he said. “And to reach 150 milestone (the most frequent, you can donate is every 56 days) that’s a real commitment.”
Patterson said the need for blood hasn’t changed much over the last couple of years, it’s the need for donors. Today, one in two people in Canada can donate blood, but only one-in-60 do.
Considering Christmas and New Year’s is the toughest time to get blood, Patterson said this could be an opportunity to make a true gift to your community.
“We love the idea of paying it forward, and returning that gift to somebody else,” he said. “There’s no more direct gift that you could give than helping to save somebody’s life.”