Inspiring plasma donors from 3,000 metres up
Ian Harrop skydived to celebrate his 600th donation of blood components
To celebrate his most recent — and impressive — donation milestone, 64-year old Ian Harrop of Calgary, Alta. chose to indulge in another of his longstanding passions: skydiving. Over the last four decades, Ian has parachuted more than 1,000 times. So what better way to mark 600 donations of whole blood and plasma?
“I donate because I know that it helps sick people get well,” Ian says simply. “I just love helping people. For many years, I taught people how to parachute, and my favourite part was seeing the look on their faces after landing successfully.”
Ian first learned about blood donation from his father, who was a regular donor. While enrolled in the University of Saskatchewan in the 1970s, Ian made his first donation of whole blood and soon became a regular donor. After moving to Calgary — one of several locations where it’s possible to make plasma-only donations — he switched to donating plasma in the 1990s. He has completed dozens of appointments each year since then. He also donated platelets once.
Ian Harrop completes his 600th donation at the Calgary donor centre.
To raise awareness of the need for blood donation, Ian once organized a skydiving demonstration and took Canadian Blood Services’ then-regional director Susan Matsumoto on a tandem jump. In recognition of the demonstration and his stellar donation record, Canadian Blood Services invited Ian to Ottawa for an annual celebration of milestone donors, community leaders and volunteers.
“I spent my career in IT, a field that’s changed dramatically during the last few decades,” Ian says. “I sometimes wonder whether the reason that I’ve been so faithful to skydiving and donating whole blood and plasma is because it’s helped me cope with that constant change".
“Whatever the reason, though, I love to do both and have no plans to stop anytime soon.”
Ian knows a 75-year old who still jumps regularly. He also frequently meets plasma donors who are older than him. But he also does his best to inspire the next generation: his children have all donated whole blood, for instance, and two of his grandchildren are keen to donate — and to skydive — as soon as they’re old enough to do so.
The need for blood is constant for patients across Canada. To book, download the GiveBlood app, call 1 888 2 DONATE or make your appointment at blood.ca/donate.