Reg Parker is among the very few who have experienced the full gamut of the transfusion and transplantation system in Canada. “Whole blood, plasma, platelets and organs — I’ve pretty much needed everything you guys provide,” says Reg.

The 46-year-old’s body has challenged him for most of his life. Born with common variable immune deficiency (CVID), Reg essentially has no immune system. He has needed gamma globulin (made from plasma) to boost his immunity since he was 14 — first monthly, then every two weeks.

When he was in his early 30s, sarcoidosis (an inflammatory disease that affects multiple organs in the body) did major damage to his lungs, while years of medication also took a toll, scarring his liver.

Reg has been close to death five times. During several catastrophic lung failures, doctors wondered whether he’d make it through the night. In March 2014, he underwent a double lung and liver transplant. He received 32 units of blood during the surgery and more after, as well as platelet infusions later to help him battle infections.

“I’m amazed at how much abuse the human body can take,” he says. “There’s really no reason I should be alive right now, but I’m here because of donors. They’ve given me life; it’s as simple as that.”

Once he regained some of his strength, Reg reached out to Canadian Blood Services. In March 2015, to mark the first anniversary of his new lungs and liver, he organized a blood drive that collected 92 units of blood. He’s also volunteered at blood donor clinics and raised more than $20,000 for Toronto General Hospital where he had his transplant.

“Being at the clinics is quite something,” says Reg, who is still recovering. “You come across some people who are perfectly healthy and their family is too, and yet they give their time every 56 days to come in… I find those people amazing and so unselfish. And I tell them that.”

He’s always happy to share his story to help donors appreciate what they’re giving to others. Reg’s youngest son also has CVID and receives gamma globulin every three weeks.

“You can watch commercials about how donating blood saves lives, but when someone is right in front of you and you see that, it’s pretty impactful,” says Reg.

“The best way to thank donors and pay my respect to them is to live my life to its fullest. That’s what I try to do. I don’t know how many lives I have left, but I know I’m one of the lucky ones.”