Robin King made his 150th donation to Canadian Blood Services at the Duncan clinic on Feb. 18. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Sarah Simpson: King of the blood donations, Robin makes it to 150

Duncan man has been donating since he was 17

Often, when I think of blood… OK I admit that’s a really odd way to start a column isn’t it? Hang in there….

I got a call from a woman the other day who was really proud of her husband for bleeding profusely. On purpose. For a cause. And he has done so relatively regularly for the last 40 years.

Late last month, Robin King, 56, made his 150th blood donation when Canadian Blood Services set up their travelling clinic here in town. It’s a massive accomplishment that’s been nearly 40 years in the making.

“I started when I was 17 right in high school,” he said, though he’s hazy on just why he began in the first place.

“I think my older sister was doing it. She didn’t continue but I thought it was kind of cool,” he said.

Cool enough to spend the next four decades dedicated to continuing the practise, apparently.

“Back then they didn’t come around very often, I think they maybe came around twice a year,” King recalled. “I finished school and moved away and it was hard to connect with the clinic so there was probably three or four years there I didn’t do it.”

That makes the feat even more impressive given donations can only be given every 56 days for men, so making 150 donations would take 25 years at best.

“When they started coming around to Duncan a little more regularly I though ‘Oh, I’ll do that!’ and I’ve just never stopped.”

Talk about the King of commitment! He’s even earned a pin for his 150 donations but the real reward comes with knowing the number of people he’s helped.

I started poking around (I totally meant to write that needle pun) on the Canadian Blood Services website and learned that one blood donation can potentially save up to three lives. I’m not very good at math but my calculation has King donating enough blood to potentially save the lives of 450 people. Not too many people can say that.

Times have changed since the old days of donations.

“It’s hard to believe that when I started volunteers actually baked the cookies so you got homemade cookies, so it was actually a pretty good treat,” King said, adding he’s got no real cookie preference. “They’ve changed over the years,” he said. Now it’s all about variety. What’s more, now they feed you not just after your donation, but before as well.

“They give you water and make you eat a salty snack,” he said.

The Canadian Blood Services website says that’s “to help maintain your blood volume and improve your donation experience.”

King said he’s not one for advice, but “it’s an easy hour” that is worth trying at least once.

“If it’s not your thing then don’t. it’s not like you’re obligated to do it,” he said. “You can quit anytime.”

Even King has cut back a little, going from every clinic to every other or so as he gets a bit older. That’s not to say he doesn’t have goals though.

“I’d actually like to try to make it to 200,” he said. “If I do three a year that’s 20-some-odd years,” he said adding, “175 would be a lot closer.”

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