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Son’s 100th blood donation coincides with mom’s 100th birthday

Paul Bourgeois donated his 100th unit of blood this week, timing the donation to coincide with his mother’s 100th birthday as a way to honour her years of service to others.
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Paul Bourgeois made his 100th blood donation on his mother Cecila’s 100th birthday. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Paul Bourgeois donated his 100th unit of blood this week, timing the donation to coincide with his mother’s 100th birthday as a way to honour her years of service to others.

Bourgeois joins a select group of donors — about 100 in Greater Victoria and another 100 on the rest of Vancouver Island — who have achieved the milestone.

Canadian Blood Services collects close to 16,000 units of blood every week.

One unit is about 500 millilitres or about a pint.

Among other things, donated blood helps fellow Canadians involved in car crashes, battling cancer, requiring heart surgery or living with aplastic anemia.

Bourgeois, 63, began donating blood in 1987 and rolls up his sleeves four to five times a year.

“I was admitted to hospital for a week on my 23rd birthday and the blood transfusions I received then saved my life,” said Bourgeois, who is retired. “I feel that it is a privilege for me to give back — and perhaps save somebody else’s life.”

As the occasion of his 100th ­donation approached, he and his family realized it would fall around the same time as his mother’s 100th birthday.

Bourgeois’ mother graduated from nursing school in 1942 and was a nurse for 10 years until she met his father, who became an officer in the navy.

After retiring, she volunteered at Oak Bay Lodge. Until a few years ago, she would go there to collect patients, calm their nerves and accompany them to appointments.

Despite having arthritis, she still knits about 52 tuques a year for street people, Bourgeois said. “It’s inspiring to know there are people out there like my mom that give so much of themselves.”

In Canada a person can start donating blood at age 17, and there is no upper age limit. “We have a number of donors who are in their 80s, with the oldest at 94 years old,” said Ann Chabert, territory manager for the Canadian Blood Services. “People can donate up to six times a year if they are in good health.”

With 100 donations under his belt, Bourgeois has some words of encouragement to offer.

“It doesn’t take very long,” he said, noting that his usual donation time is less than seven minutes.

It’s “virtually painless,” he said, and light refreshments are served afterward. “I’m so thankful I can do it and I would encourage everyone to participate. Help save a life.”

Due to COVID-19, clinics are no longer accepting walk-in traffic. To book an appointment to give blood, download the GiveBlood app, call 1-888-2DONATE (1-888-236-6283) or go to blood.ca.

parrais@timescolonist.com