On Aug. 27, Calgary’s Doug Turner marked his 1,000th blood donation by celebrating his many gifts with family, staff and well-wishers.

Doug unintentionally rolled up his sleeve early in his teaching career.

“I started donating when I became an instructor in 1961 at Mount Royal College,” admits Doug. “There was a mobile blood donor clinic for students each semester. Knowing the importance of giving back to the community, I tried to talk my students into giving blood and they in turn enticed me to join them.”

Although the experience met his teaching objective, Doug himself didn’t get personally involved until a couple of years later. As a registered donor with a rare blood type, he received a call that would chart the course for a lifetime of giving. “One night, I got a call to give blood around 9 p.m. I thought this was very unusual, but I went,” recalls Doug. “When I got down there, there were about 25 people giving blood, all with Rh negative group A blood.”

The next morning, through pure coincidence, Doug learned the reason for the call. One of his students came to class after a sleepless night spent at the hospital working to help save a severely injured 18-year-old hemophiliac car accident victim.

Both teacher and student had helped to save the same person’s life.

“Three to four days later, I learned that the girl had pulled through,” says Doug “That sold me on the process and I never gave up on it. It was very important to me.”

A self-described committed and patient man, he has been a dedicated donor and advocate ever since.

Doug’s patience and persistence has also been a constant inspiration for his students. “Four students that I taught over the 35 years at Mount Royal are still giving blood today and they are all over 500 donations,” he shares proudly. “So there are probably another 2000 donations that could be attributed to a degree to being part of my camp.”

After 28 years and 100 whole blood donations, Doug made the move to plasma donation. He enjoys being a regular of the Tuesday Morning Apheresis Club made up of eight people from various walks of life brought together by the desire to help those in need.

“We’ve been there for 15-20 years; many of these folks are up to 800, 900 donations,” Doug admits humbly. “I just happen to be the old boy from the group and at it longer; the donations caught up quickly.”

Apheresis Nurse Kathy Yanosik has built a strong relationship with this donor over the years. She acknowledges that, in addition to blood donation, Doug brings other gifts to the Calgary clinic.

“You always know when Doug is here because he is vivacious, laughing and always telling stories.”

A true comedian, Doug once honoured Yanosik with the Nurse “Chatty Kathy Doll”… complete with needle.

“When he brought it into what was then the clinic, we thought it was just the perfect thing,” says Kathy “We ended up hanging it up at the clinic.”

Over many years, the doll became a great conversation piece among donors and staff alike.

“You can laugh at getting needles when you see a doll with a needle this long,” says the doll’s namesake. “Everybody’s nervous about needles, this made it fun. We would tease people and tell them that if they didn’t behave they were going to get the doll.”

After 52 years as a loyal blood donor, Doug plans to retire when he turns 79 in October. He will be truly missed but his legacy will live on through his many gifts.

Doug views giving blood as “one of the most worthwhile volunteer activities that anyone can do” and encourages anyone interested in giving back to the community to take up the cause.