Bob MacDonald brings the ‘gift of life’ to Manitoulin

MANITOWANING—Soft-spoken Bob MacDonald was gearing up for his busy Wednesday night at the Little Current recreation centre this week when The Expositor caught up with him at his Manitowaning home the previous Sunday evening.

It is thanks to the volunteer efforts of Mr. MacDonald that sees Canadian Blood Services roll into Little Current four times each year, setting up in the recreation centre’s hall to receive the ‘gift of life’ from Manitoulin residents, volunteers in their own right.

Mr. MacDonald explained that, about 20 years ago, Manitoulin lost its blood donor clinic because of the “politics at the time.” Five years of lobbying later, Mr. MacDonald was able to see the blood donor clinic back on Manitoulin.

“With an average of 50 units of blood from Manitoulin, it was a worthwhile trip,” he said. “We have got as high as 71 units.”

He said this particular cause is important to him as many people close to him have needed transfusions over the years and making sure the local hospitals have a healthy stock in their blood bank is key.

Mr. MacDonald oversees a minimum of eight volunteers for the three different staging areas of the clinic: guides to bring donors to the nursing stations, guides to the beds and guides for the refreshment/rest area after giving blood. The entire process takes between 45 minutes and an hour. He noted his most loyal of volunteers: Robert and Ursula Paxton, Larry Smith, Norm Hore, Ron Towns, Wilfred Holmes, Bruce Gordon and Linda Erskine.

More recently, a group of musical minded volunteers, such as the St. Bernard’s (aka Father George’s) Band have also given of their time. Having music, Mr. MacDonald, explains, helps to relax the donors. “They focus on the music instead of focussing on the needle,” he chuckled.

It is always the goals of Mr. MacDonald and Canadian Blood Services to see between 60 and 70 units of blood donated within the three-hour time frame that is allotted in Little Current.

Besides his work with Canadian Blood Services, Mr. MacDonald has also been a volunteer firefighter with the Assiginack Volunteer Fire Department for the past 30 years, “since the beginning,” and helps out with Knox United Church events on a regular basis. In fact, The Expositor caught up with Mr. MacDonald following his volunteering at the Manitowaning Minor Hockey spaghetti supper end-of-year- banquet at the church hall. He said it was a good time had by all.

Being a member of the Doric Lodge is also a large part of Mr. MacDonald’s life, which also has affiliations with Canadian Blood Services.

“Volunteering is something to keep me occupied and out of trouble,” he said softly.

Mr. MacDonald urges Islanders who are able to give blood to do so at the clinic tonight, Wednesday, April 9, at the Little Current rec centre hall, reminding donors and potential donors that one unit of blood will help four people.