Milestone donor honoured

Jim Thiessen, honoured for giving blood 188 times, dropped the puck to kick off Hockey Gives Blood Community Night Feb. 5. He was joined on ice by Winkler Flyers Director of Sales and Marketing Matt Friesen and Selkirk Steelers and Winkler Flyers captains. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Winkler Times)

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Local blood donor Jim Thiessen was honoured as part of the Winkler Flyers Community Night to support the Hockey Gives Blood initiative.
Thiessen has donated blood 188 times, beginning when he was just 18-years-old. “I’m 75 now, so it’s been a few years,” he said.
Thiessen dropped the puck at the Feb. 5 Flyers game to support the initiative. Hockey Gives Blood is a non-profit organization formed in the wake of the Humboldt tragedy. They have partnered with Canadian Blood Services to create awareness among the hockey community of the importance of blood and stem cell donation.
Thiessen credits his mother for getting him started. “My mother convinced me that would be a good idea,” he said. “I started when I was 18, but those years they only came out like once a year maybe, than later twice a year.”
One experience of giving blood sticks with him, but it wasn’t a scheduled donation.
Thiessen was involved with the blood bank at the old hospital in the late 70’s and early 80’s.
An O- (universal donor), he recalls getting a phone call to come in.
“There was a situation where they needed blood in a hurry, they couldn’t wait for somebody to go to Winnipeg to get it,” he said.
He recalls that many donors were called in that night, and when he spotted Dr. Klassen the next day he asked him what happened.
“Well, he says, you can put a feather in your hat… you saved two lives last night.”
Thiessen joked that the human body is like having a used car. “It needs an oil change once in a while,” he said.
He urged others to get involved as well.
“Don’t be afraid to come and try it,” he said. There’s nothing to it. I have never felt any different leaving than I did going in… never, not once in 188 times.”
Thiessen is still giving and said he’ll do it as long as he can. “I set my goal on 200 now,” he said.
Winkler Flyers Director of Sales and Marketing, Matt Friesen said they were excited to honour Jim Thiessen.
“For the amount of people he’s saved and the amount of times he donated blood, we just felt that this would be a good opportunity to kind of showcase what Jim’s done,” he said.
Canadian Blood Services territory manager Steve Raizen said it’s an incredible commitment to donate blood as many times as Jim Thiessen has.
“We start our milestone honouring at 50 donations, so 188 is a serious commitment,” he said. “We’re very grateful to Jim for all the time he has taken to donate.”
The next Donation Event in Winkler takes place Thursday March 7. There are 75 spots available and people can book a spot at, by calling 1-888-2DONATE, or by downloading the GiveBlood app.
People between the ages of 17 and 35 can also register to be a stem cell donor.