Aldergrove senior Harvey Rempel, as a blood donation tradition, collects a Canadian Blood Services pin for each of his clinic visits. (Sarah Grochowski photo)

B.C. senior gives blood for 200th time, has ‘saved’ 600 lives

There was no cutting of cake for Harvey Rempel but he’s challenging youth to start donating blood

The first time Aldergrove senior Harvey Rempel gave blood, he was just a young face in his teens.

Both him and his brother, who grew up in Langley, “thought it would be a good idea,” Rempel retold.

On Tuesday, that brotherly tradition extended into Rempel’s 200th time giving blood.

The 83 year old walked into a donation clinic at Church in the Valley amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when many his age – being most at risk for complications if diagnosed – are being encouraged to stay home.

“After I donated, a person from Canadian Blood Services (CBS) told me I have saved 600 lives,” from his donations, said Rempel.

“I’m just happy that I can help somebody out – that I am healthy enough to.”

READ MORE: Aldergrove husband hosts day of giving blood for late wife Chris

Tuesday afternoon he got a call from his son and daughter-in-law in Kamloops who toasted him over the phone for his special milestone.

Before the global pandemic, Rempel enjoyed reminiscing about the era he grew up in over coffee with others his age.

“In our era, you ate what was on the table and you were happy,” he said, unfazed by the current public health crisis that has kept him largely confined to his Lions Grove apartment.

Rempel’s dad originally immigrated to Langley, from Russia, and his mother migrated in from Washington State.

She was one of the first people ever to settle in Yarrow, a small community in Chilliwack.

“You learned to struggle through in my days,” said Rempel, now a widow.

His wife passed away five years ago, three years after relocating to a seniors living complex in Aldergrove.

For as long as the COVID-19 crisis continues and he is allowed – Rempel will continue to donate blood, he said.

READ MORE: Aldergrove donors worry about blood donations decline due to COVID-19

“When the dust settles I’m still going to get a cake to celebrate,” Rempel chuckled.

It was something blood clinic volunteers couldn’t offer him to comply with provincial health mandates to disband group gatherings to reduce the virus’ spread.

Blood clinics are now operating by appointment only, to ensure safety from COVID-19 at donor centres.

After his 100th donation, Rempel was given a special plaque.

And as a tradition when he donates every 56 days, Rempel collects an updated CBS pin for each of his visits.

Now, the senior is challenging younger generations to step and and give.

“They have to replace us old folk who might soon not be able to,” urged Rempel. “Because there’s always going to be a need for blood.”

Canadian Blood Services says it needs the help of Canadians to maintain a healthy supply during the pandemic.

To learn more about blood donation those interested can visit the Canadian Blood Services webpage at blood.ca/en.

Those who would like to donate can call 1-888-2-Donate and make an appointment.

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Harvey Rempel (left), now 83, first donated blood alongside his brother (right) when they were teenagers. (Sarah Grochowski photo)

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