A blood donor from the Quebec City area reaches the 1000th donation mark

Quebec City, July 29, 2015 – Blood donor Jacques Chouinard, a resident of the Quebec City area, has made his 1000th blood donation at the Laurier Québec GLOBULE Donor Centre.

Jacques Chouinard’s lifelong habit of giving blood started when he was 18 years old. His parents paved the way by introducing him to the procedure back in Abitibi-Témiscamingue. To him, donating blood is more than a good gesture; it’s become a way of life. He even changed jobs to better accommodate his donating schedule. At 53 years old, he sees himself as having two full-time jobs: One as a blood donor, the other at the Ministère du Travail, de l'Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale.

Another donor, also present this morning, from the region is well on his way to meet the same milestone, with 998 donations under his belt. André Labbé, a 71-year-old retired firefighter with a deep fear of needles, decided to overcome his phobia one day and become a blood donor. “I got used to it,” the Wendake resident explains, “I became tougher. And today, I don’t even think twice about it”, he says with a wide smile.

On top of being blood donors, the two have also donated platelets and plasma on a regular basis at the Laurier Québec GLOBULE Donor Centre since it opened 12 years ago. And they both intend to keep on giving for as long as they can.

Serge Maltais, CEO of Héma-Québec, celebrated this outstanding achievement by awarding a commemorative medal to Jacques Chouinard. “I want to salute Jacques Chouinard’s extraordinary commitment to the cause. With 1,000 donations, he truly is a source of inspiration. Each unit of blood is important, and Jacques Chouinard’s unwavering commitment has made him a hero,” said Mister Maltais in the moments following this morning’s historic donation.

Québec, a true breeding ground for major blood donors

Jacques Chouinard joins four other blood donors - Michel Thérien, Jacques Paquin, Jean Bernier and James Lambert – who’ve reached the 1,000 donation mark since 2009. The four donors were on site at the Laurier Québec GLOBULE Donor Centre this morning, wanting to welcome the two men to their select group. Together, the six donors have made a whopping 6,525 donations.  

1,000 donations: how is that possible?

Blood is made from a liquid called plasma, which carries three types of cells: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Each of these components have a specific role to play. When patients receive a transfusion, they don’t receive what’s known as whole blood, but rather the elements required for their treatment.

Eight times out of ten, these blood products come from a unit of whole blood obtained through one of the numerous blood drives held across the province. But some people only choose to donate plasma, platelets or red blood cells. And to do so, they must visit one of the PLASMAVIE Donor Centres located in Trois-Rivières and Saguenay, or one of the GLOBULE Donor Centres in Quebec City, Laval, Montreal and Saguenay. These centres operate specialized equipment that make selective donations possible, extracting only selected blood products.

How can a donor reach 1,000 donations? The answer to that lies in the type of donation made. Every donor that’s managed to reach the magical 1,000 donation plateau has done it through aphereris. Apheresis donations are done through a specialized machine that filters the donor’s blood, separating it into different components. These components are then sent to a sampling bag while the remainder of the blood is returned to the donor. In other words, it’s a drawing technique that collects only the required blood components (platelets, red blood cells or plasma) in a selective manner.

The frequency of donations allowed through apheresis is higher than that of whole blood. Platelet donations through apheresis can help the lives of patients up to 24 times a year, or every 14 days. The human body can produce millions of platelets every minute. The extraordinary speed at which platelets regenerate allows donors to quickly regain their normal blood count. The same goes for plasma. We can donate plasma through apheresis every six days, or up to 50 times a year. On the other hand, whole blood donations can only be done six times a year.

About Héma-Québec

Héma-Québec’s mission is to efficiently meet the needs of the Québec population for safe, optimal-quality blood and blood products, human tissues, cord blood, mother’s milk and cellular products; and to develop and provide expertise and specialized, innovative services in the field of human biological products.

Héma-Québec encompasses 1,300 employees, over 300,000 donor visits to blood drives per year, 16,000 volunteers and more than 500,000 blood products delivered annually to Québec hospitals to meet the needs of patients.

Give blood. Give life.

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