When Simon Matthews first decided to give blood, there was no reason behind his decision to do so.
The year was 1978. Matthews was 17 years old and in Grade 12.
It was a time when the Red Cross had clinics that travelled to each of the high schools looking for donors.
“It was something to do,” said Matthews, thinking back to his high school days.
“I have always been a volunteer throughout my life and this was just another volunteer opportunity – something to give back to society.”
Now, Matthews has plenty of reasons to give blood.
He has since lost friends and relatives to cancer and other blood diseases.
And give he does.
Matthews has been donating blood for 35 years now.
Every two weeks he makes the 50-kilometre journey to the main Oak Street clinic in Vancouver to make a platelet donations. Platelets are the cells that clot blood and are used to treat cancer and burn victims.
So far, Matthews has made 104 whole blood and 235 platelet donations.
On Sept. 10, Matthews will be receiving a national award at the Canadian Blood Services’ 13th annual Honouring Our Lifeblood ceremony at the National Arts Gallery in Ottawa.
The Honouring Our Lifeblood ceremony recognizes donors, volunteers, partners and peer recruiters.
Matthews will be representing British Columbia as someone who has gone above and beyond in their contributions to the Canadian Blood Services.
Not only is he a regular donor, he has also organized a blood donation program at his place of work, the Pacific Blue Cross, called Partners for Life. He started the program ten years ago and has championed its growth to 120 active donors at Pacific Blue Cross.
Matthews is also trying to work with other organizations like Scouts Canada to build blood donors.
“It’s a really simple process, It is about an hour of your time. And it will save another persons life,” said Matthews also stressing how safe the process is.
“All the equipment is one- time use, so there’s no risk to the donor,” he said.
“The Canadian Blood Services, when they took over from the Red Cross, have really done an excellent job in screening donors to make sure that blood is also safe for the recipients.”
Clinics are held every two weeks in Maple Ridge at Maple Ridge Alliance Church at 20399 Dewdney Trunk Rd.. The next clinic will be on Sept. 14. The program runs all year long.
“The sad thing is only about three per cent of people actually donate when probably 50 per cent of all families require blood at some point,” said Matthews.