‘Let’s do this together’: Okanagan company encouraging others to donate plasma

Click to play video: 'Three dozen employees at one Kelowna company donate plasma for life-saving medication'
Three dozen employees at one Kelowna company donate plasma for life-saving medication
Three dozen employees at one Kelowna company donate plasma for life-saving medication – Mar 22, 2023

A Kelowna company is hoping its recent donation drive inspires other companies to do the same.

But this was no standard donation drive — this one has the potential to save lives.

“If you have an employee base of five people, 10 people, 100 people, chances are a lot of people don’t know just how simple it really is,” said Jason Laronde, sales manager at Vitalis.

“So all it sometimes takes is just to stand up in one of those monthly or weekly stand-up meetings and say, hey, there’s this thing. Let’s do this together.”

Laronde, who was behind the drive, is talking about plasma donations, something employees at Vitalis, a manufacturing company, took part in February.

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Plasma makes up 55 per cent of blood and is used to make life-saving medication to treat a variety of diseases.

“We communicated that message to the entire crew. Everybody got on board,” Laronde told Global News.

“We actually had departments creating like our own mini teams that were all challenging each other to get out there more than others. So it’s really beautiful.”

In all, 36 employees took part, more than half of the locally based workforce.

The drive produced a total of 45 unit donations in the month of February alone. It also smashed the company’s previous record of 13 unit donations for all of 2022.

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“There were a lot of milestones that we were really proud of. But not only did we go over four times last year’s total in only four weeks, we were able to also increase the number of donors that were donating,” Laronde said.

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“We had eight new people that had never done it before added to our team.”

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Jeff Willard was one of those employees, having donated his plasma for the very first time.

“It was a cool challenge that was put forward,”  said Willard, a Vitalis applications engineer.  “It seemed like an interesting way to get everybody involved, something to help the community and kind of rise to action and do something unique.”

Willard admits he didn’t know much about plasma and its benefits. But when he became informed, he said it was an easy decision to make.

“Our social committee put together a little presentation of the benefits of plasma, what it’s used for, how it helps so many people,” Willard said  “That’s what really intrigued all of us to try and jump on board.”

Officials at the Kelowna Plasma Donation Centre said companies like Vitalis make a big difference for those who depend on certain medications to survive.

“It was incredible to see the way that Vitalis just joined together as a team and they came out week after week, through the month of February, and they made a big difference,” said Janna Pantella,  business development manager at the Kelowna Plasma Donor Centre.

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Pantella said it takes about 130  plasma units to provide a year-long supply of medication for one Canadian in need.

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“By donating that number of times, they (Vitalis) have made all the difference for a Canadian who has an immune disease, providing the medications that they need for half a year,” Pantella said.

Willard said now that he’s donated once, he won’t hesitate to do it again.

“Seeing how easy the process was and how streamlined it was, I’ll definitely be back,” Willard said.

“You know, it’s good to get that first one out of the way because all the rest that follow are going to be a lot easier.”

You can go to the Canadian Blood Services website for more information about plasma donation or to book an appointment.

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