Blood donor Carl Hnatuk prepares to make his 154th donation at the Canadian Blood Services clinic in Guildford on Friday. Hnatuk first donated on April 16 1984 and has been giving ever since.

The spirit of giving – in spades

Surrey resident Carl Hnatuk gives his 154th pint of blood.

The first time Carl Hnatuk gave blood 29 years ago, he needed some prodding. But these days, 154 pints of blood later, the Surrey resident doesn’t need any encouragement to donate.

Hnatuk, 48, has been giving blood as often as he can since he was 19. Every 56 days, the current required wait time between blood donation visits, he goes to the blood donor clinic at 15285 101 Ave., which moved from their Newton location in August.

“They all know me (there),” said Hnatuk.

Donating blood makes him feel good, both physically and mentally, and he never gets dizzy.

“It just makes me feel happy,” he said.

The first time Hnatuk gave blood, it was with his father, who was also a donor, and at that time Hnatuk needed encouragement.

“My dad kind of had to talk me into it because I was scared at first. He coaxed me in. I thought the needle was going to hurt, but it never did,” he said.

That was April 16th 1984.

Fast forward nearly three decades, and Hnatuk is an expert on the subject. He remembers when the Canadian Red Cross was the regulating organization and the early days when he could only donate every 90 days.

With the emergence of Canadian Blood Services and new health studies, the regulations have changed over the years. People soon were able to give blood every 70 days, and now every 56 days – the time it takes for the body to replenish one pint of blood.

Hnatuk doesn’t know anybody who gives blood as often as he does.

“I wish they would give like I do,” he said.

One hour is all it takes to save up to three lives with one donation.

Hnatuk plans to continue donating blood for as long as he can, and if he could, he said, he would give more often.

With the holidays here, and more people celebrating, blood donations are in high demand.

To make an appointment, call Canadian Blood Services at 1-888-2-DONATE (1-888-236-6283).

Surrey North Delta Leader

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