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Donors

As the old motto goes, “Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night” will keep postal workers from delivering the mail. The same is true of Calgary resident Lucille Sawatsky and her dedication to saving lives through blood donation.

Lucille’s commitment to the blood system has earned her recognition as Canada’s top female donor. She’s rolled up her sleeve close to 900 times since the mid-60s when canvassers came door-to-door to solicit blood donations.

“I thought it was a good thing to do and a good time to start,” says Lucille matter-of-factly.

Lucille, 69, gave whole blood about 100 times before switching to plasma and platelets. Now she’s a Wednesday morning mainstay in the plasma program.

“I enjoy giving blood every week. Even when I lived out of town, I’d take the day off to come back to Calgary to donate. Rain or shine or storming, I’m still going,” she promises.

Only life’s major setbacks have kept Lucille away from the donation bed, and she’s had a few over the years, namely the death of two sons and a grandson.

“When I phoned to cancel my appointment when I was going to my grandson’s funeral in B.C., a Canadian Blood Services staff member called me in surprise because she knew I’d never cancelled. The next time I was in to donate the staff gave me a beautiful card with everyone’s signature and comments. Those are friends to me.” And that’s exactly what keeps Lucille coming back every week.

“I enjoy the people at the clinic and the Wednesday regulars I’ve gotten to know. That keeps me going. They know my life history there.”

Lynn Holt, an Apheresis Charge Nurse in Calgary, has known Lucille since she started work at the organization 18 years ago.

“Lucille is so dedicated; it’s her mission in life to give back,” says Lynn. “She’s been through a lot but she doesn’t miss a beat coming in to donate. She remembers staff names and things that are happening at Canadian Blood Services. She’s very memorable.”

When she’s not saving lives Lucille, (now retired), likes to read, knit, do cross-stitch and crossword puzzles and belt out songs every week as a tenor in her church choir, a rarity for a female singer.

She’s been a member of her church choir for 26 years, where she has a supportive community of friends who think her commitment to blood donation is pretty remarkable.

“My choir partner pulls for me and pats me on the back all the time,” says Lucille. “Everyone around me is happy to hear about it. A lot of them can’t donate so they think it’s a great thing that I can and do.”

Lucille feels proud to be Canada’s top female blood donor and will keep giving as long as she can. She offers straightforward advice to others considering it: “There’s nothing to be scared of. It’s needed. Just try it.”

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