Russ Mallard is more interested in giving the gift of life than receiving presents – even on his birthday.
The Charlottetown resident wanted to mark the unique occasion of making his 60th blood donation on his 60th birthday in a special way.
“I just called it the ‘60 by 60 blood drive’: 60 donations by my 60th birthday," he says.
Mallard surpassed his goal.
He managed to coax more than 80 people to roll up their sleeves since late August, including several first-time donors. His four adult children helped get the word out.
The donors come from across P.E.I., around the Maritimes, with even some residents of the United States brought on board to give blood south of the border.
“It’s just about going in and contributing to the overall pot," says Mallard. “Honestly, I’m very pleased about it. I guess I could say I’m humbled by it."
On Thursday — Mallard’s 60th birthday — he was joined by his father Clarence and by his son Jonathan in donating blood at the Canadian Blood Services clinic in Charlottetown.
Mallard’s father, who has made about 35 blood donations, was his inspiration to first donate blood in 2006. His three daughters, his son and his wife also contribute to the cause.
“It makes me feel good to donate," he says. “It gives me a good feeling to know I’m helping others … It’s just an amazing thing that you can do."
Peter MacDonald, director of donor relations for Atlantic Canada with Canadian Blood Services, would like to bottle the spirit of donors like Mallard.
“I wish I knew the secret formula," he says. “I think it’s a real sense of community. What a way to make a difference in your community."
MacDonald says Mallard has taken his dedication to Canadian Blood Services to a new level by actively recruiting many others to become donors in addition to continuing to regularly donate his own blood.
He notes one in two Canadians are eligible to donate blood but fewer than four per cent of those eligible Canadians donate blood on a regular basis.
He adds the participation rate is slightly above the average in P.E.I.
“Islanders are generous, for sure," says MacDonald.
He also lauds the call from public health officials earlier this year during the pandemic to urge Canadians to continue donating blood. Rallying the cause has seen the volume of blood donations by Islanders and other Canadians in 2020 stay on par with recent years.
Perhaps Mallard offers the best pitch for giving the gift of life.
“Because I can, I should," he says.
Ready to give?
In compliance with the Public Health Agency of Canada’s direction to enable physical distancing, Canadian Blood Services can currently only welcome people with appointments.
Download the GiveBlood app and join Canada’s Lifeline. Call 1-888-236-6283 for an appointment or book now at Blood.ca.