Krista Klokeid shows a necklace carrying 400 red beads, each representing a unit of blood she has received over the past four years. (Morgan Cross photo)

Krista Klokeid shows a necklace carrying 400 red beads, each representing a unit of blood she has received over the past four years. (Morgan Cross photo)

Routine donor and father of blood recipient urges others to give over BC Day long weekend

Summer is a critical time for blood donations.

When Kerry Klokeid was a child, he never imagined he would one day donate blood on a regular basis.

Kerry watched his parents donate from time to time and did the same when he was old enough. After moving out and making a life of his own, however, that charitable habit soon fizzled out.

“People donate free of charge. It’s just a matter of finding the time to go in and give the blood,” said Kerry, citing “being busy” as a main reason people don’t pledge the time to give.

He began donating sporatically again in 2006, but it wasn’t until his daughter, Krista, was unexpectedly diagnosed with a rare and unknown blood disease four years ago that he realized the importance of giving blood. The personal connection pulled him back into a blood donation routine, more so than ever before.

“That’s the problem, I couldn’t relate it to something personal,” said Kerry, a Greater Victoria resident.

At 33 years old, Krista has required blood every two weeks for the past four years to maintain her depleting hemoglobin and iron levels. In that time, she has received more than 400 units of blood, approximately one pint of blood each week.

Her levels of iron and hemoglobin are so low that she often cannot walk up a flight of stairs without resting several times. Due to her condition, she was required to leave her job as a paramedic.

“You have a situation where someone in your family, or a close friend, needs lots of blood, and you think ‘I’ve got it’,” Kerry said.

Kerry continues to donate blood for Krista and others in need to this day. While he admits he’s a bit squeamish when the needles come out, Kerry is determined to continue his altruism anyway, especially given that his blood type can be donated to anyone, including children.

“Unless people have somebody who is put in a situation where they need to have blood and blood byproducts, they’re sometimes not aware how difficult it is for people who need it to get it,” he said. “It’s not like they can go and make some more, it’s on a volunteer basis.”

Krista added, “The kindness of strangers, family and friends is what keeps me alive.”

Canadian Blood Services issued an urgent call for donors across Canada in June, and though donor numbers were met by July 1, more blood is always needed. Summer presents a historically difficult time for the blood system.

At any given time, Canadian Blood Services has only five to eight-day supplies of blood available due to the short shelf life of blood. Kerry plans to donate over B.C. Day long weekend and encourages others to do the same.

“You have to be thankful for what you have and you have to pay back a little bit,” said Kerry. “Think about donating blood. There’s no real pain involved, just an hour of your time to help somebody.”

Canadian Blood Services encourages those 17 and over to donate, and, as the upper age limit has been removed, those over 71 can continue to donate. The full criteria for donors and a list of nearby clinics is available at blood.ca.

editor@vicnews.com

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