Local man gives lifesaving gift 'I don't have to worry too much about'

One of Kelowna10's holiday season stories that had people talking. How one local man’s efforts continue to help the community.

  • Okanagan man honoured for giving
  • Going for 100 donations
  • Public asked to donate plasma

On Friday, at the age of 70, Garry McCracken gave his 99th donation to Canadian Blood Services.

He’s been a regular at the Kelowna plasma donor center and is looking forward to making his 100th donation very soon.

Recently, McCracken was recognized nationally at the National Honouring Canada’s Lifeline event for his contributions to encourage regular blood donors to become plasma donors, and for his charitable actions.

“I was quite surprised with the award; I’ve only been a blood plasma donor for a very short period of time,” McCracken told Kelowna10 at the center.

McCracken, who served 22 years in the Canadian Armed Forces, and has seen situations where blood and plasma are needed.

“It’s one of my ways of giving back to society. It’s a gift I don’t have to worry too much about how it impacts for me, and it’s something I can do without any consequences,” he said.

Celebrating 70 in style

For his 70th birthday, he initially planned to bike across Canada in 70 days. The pandemic stopped the ride, but Garry still wanted to do something charitable.

“I wanted to try and get 70 donors from all my friends across the country and around the world, and I actually achieved that. 70 donations, for my 70th birthday,” McCracken said.

Janet Pantella, Manager of Business Development with Canadian Blood Services, nominated Garry for the award and said he is an inspiration for the community.

“When he shared with me that his goal was to get 70 people, because he’s working on raising awareness, not just locally, but across Canada and internationally, that just says so much about him,” she said.

Plasma donation is like giving blood. The procedure involves putting the plasma in a bottle, separating your red and white blood cells, and platelets which are then put back into your body through the same needle.

Pantella said they’re looking to book over 600 appointments between now and the first week of January.

“People’s lives are focused on activities or time with family and so we’re really excited to see the number of people that are booking because they’re giving the ultimate gift to fellow Canadians, which is more time with their loved ones.”

McCracken will make his 100th donation on Christmas Eve but doesn’t plan on stopping at triple digits.

“I don’t see any reason why I would stop at 100,” he said. “My wife can’t donate because she has an artificial valve in her heart and is on Warfarin. This gives me a chance to help all those people who do need plasma and blood.”

The plasma donor center opened in Kelowna in June of 2021.

Appointments to donate can be done on their website, or by calling 1-888-2 DONATE.

Published 2021-12-10 by Connor Chan

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