A Good Samaritan: Blood Donor Edition

Image Credits: BingAi, 2024

Nikesh Kadawathage is an accountant that lives in Ajax, Ontario who donates his blood once every two months. It all began when Nikesh was a kid. Nikesh grew up witnessing his dad donate his blood. Intrigued and inspired, Nikesh began carrying on the tradition at the age of seventeen when he participated in his high school’s annual blood donation event.

“I also wanted to do it because of the free snacks” – Nikesh Kadawathage

A day with blood donation on the schedule

“So I usually schedule my blood donation appointments in the evening time”. Nikesh spends his day getting his work done, while drinking as much water as possible. Drinking an immense amount of water increases your hemoglobin levels. Hemoglobin is the protein in our red blood cells that carries oxygen. It is the most important component when donating red blood cells. Before going to his appointment, Nikesh fills out an online questionnaire consisting of forty questions, which he then receives a QR code. After making his way to the donation clinic, he presents his donor card with an ID card. Nikesh then has a one-on-one session with a nurse. During this time, his questionnaire is reviewed, his next appointment is made, and his temperature is checked. Most importantly, his hemoglobin levels are checked – which indicates whether he gets to donate his blood or not. At his last appointment, Nikesh’s hemoglobin levels were high enough. He was then given a number – now it’s time to wait his turn. For Nikesh, donating a pint of blood typically takes him between 6 to 12 minutes in total. When he’s finished with his donation, it is a requirement for him to wait 15 to 20 minutes. Nikesh is given snacks and water while he recovers from his donation.

Anisa Ali (@.anisa.ali) | TikTok

an expert’s insight …..

S.Kabir is the Centre Supervisor for Canadian Blood Services at one their Toronto clinic locations. Her main responsibilities include maintain the daily operations of the clinic. That includes making sure employees and volunteers are properly equipped and attending clinic events.

Throughout our interview, she explains “there will always be a need for blood in Canada”. CBS recruits its donors from meetings and presentations with different organizations across the city.  “I think education is the key to awareness”. With the help of social media and the internet, many potential donors have unlimited access to any questions or concerns they may have about donating their blood. CBS also provides donors and potential donors with all the information they need on their website.

After sharing Nikesh’s story, Ms. Kabir noticed a quality many donors tend to share – tradition. While there may not be a demographic that donates more than the other, there are donors that has been giving blood for many years. As time passes, these donors bring their children, who carry on the practice. Not only does this tradition take place within families, but workplace environments.

Blood Donation in Canada

Over the past couple of years, Canada has been dealing with a shortage of blood donors. It is no secret blood donation play a vital role in our healthcare system. Donating blood provides support and care to patients within our healthcare system every day. Whether it is used for surgery, cancer treatments or medical procedures, patients across Canada depend on those who donate their blood. According to the Government of Canada’s website, Canada is known to have one the safest blood system in the world with the help and guidance of major health restrictions and guidelines. Right now, over 50% of Canadians either has needed or knows someone who needs blood donation or blood related products throughout their lifetime. While the demand for blood transfusions continue to rise, the number of donors continue to decrease. Not only does this add stress to the healthcare sector, but patients across the country are also placed in a compromised position.

Canadian Blood Services is a non-profit organization the receives primary funding by all governments in every province and territory excluding Quebec. Their mission is to ensure Canadians have a reliable and high-quality blood donation experience, while also providing patients with the blood products they need.

CBS is responsible for collecting, testing, and manufacturing blood and blood products – including red blood cells, platelets, and plasma. They are also known for their investment into research and development to continually gain knowledge and adaptability to maintain and improve the health of both patients and donors.

  • In 2023-2023, CBS received 767K blood collections compared to 765K during their previous fiscal year.

Unfortunately, after the pandemic, CBS has been dealing a decline in blood donation. Canada’s blood donation participation has dropped from 4% to under 2%.


Age – To become a blood donor in Canada you must be at least 17 years old and meet our minimum height and weight requirements

Medications – If you are currently taking medication and want to know if you are eligible to donate, review our list of acceptable and unacceptable medications here.

Vaccinations – If you have recently been vaccinated, you may be temporarily deferred from donating blood or plasma.

Travel – If you are planning a trip outside of Canada or have just returned, be sure you are informed about how your destination may affect your ability to donate.

Did you know…….

  • People with O-negative (O-) blood are considered universal donors because anyone can receive O- blood
  • There has been no evidence of COVID-19 being transmissible through blood
  • Every person’s body contains about five litres of blood (or 10.5 pints)
  • over 4.5 million patients need blood transfusions each year in the U.S. and Canada
  • if it’s been three months since your last tattoo, and you’re fully healed, you may be eligible to donate
  • males can donate up to 6 times a year, but females can donate up to 4 times a year

Nikesh’s story is a perfect example of how donating blood playing an import role in society. Now, every time Nikesh donates his blood, he gets a notification on his phone when his blood is being used to help save someone’s life. While he may know he’s making a difference, he does not have access to the recipient’s identity or location. Nikesh has set a goal to donate 100 pints of his blood. He is currently at 31 donations.

What Canadians knows about blood donation

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