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Local woman celebrates 100th blood donation

Joyce Little started donating blood when she was 17 years old; 'There’s so many people who can’t that I always felt a responsibility to do it'

Giving back to your community can take many different shapes and forms. For 61-year-old Thorold resident Joyce Little, it’s donating blood, which she recently did for the 100th time.

“I go pretty much as many times as I’m allowed to,” says Little, in an interview with ThoroldToday. “There’s so many people who can’t for one reason or another that I always kind of felt a responsibility to do it.”

Little started donating blood when she was 17 years old.

“There was a blood drive at my high school,” Little says. “There was no higher reason [for doing it.] I suppose it was nice to feel like a grown up.”

Pretty quickly, Little fell into the habit of donating blood.

“When I was in university a friend of my mine needed a lot of blood and that was the point at which I thought: ‘Oh yeah this is really important,’" she says. “And my dad needed a lot of transfusions before he died — it became personal.”

As a woman, Little is allowed to donate blood every 84 days. She has a mobile app that reminds her whenever she’s eligible.

After donating 100 pints of blood, Little has grown quite accustomed to the donation process.

“I generally look the other direction when people stick the needle in my arm but I’m not afraid of them,” she says. “I’m usually on my phone or they have a tv going with closed captioning. I’m a pretty fast bleeder. I always take a book but it’s kind of hard because you only have one hand available to you.”

One thing’s for certain: the ease with which Little donates blood does not come naturally to many others.

“That’s part of the reason I do it — because I know that other people aren’t comfortable with it,” Little says. “I would just point out that it really doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t take long, and I know from my dad how much help it was to him that other people had donated blood.”

Getting a fun snack after a donation is a good motivator too.

“I love getting potato chips,” says Little. “They like you to have something salty certainly before you donate, but even after to help retain fluids. I used to try to have some liver the night before I donated — I love liver.”

While Little is happy to keep doing her part, she feels pretty humble about her 100th milestone.

“When I gave my 50th unit I felt pretty good about myself,” she says. “I sat down with a little snack bar and the guy to the right of me said: ‘Oh, that’s great, congratulations. I’m on my 78th unit.’ And the guy on the other side of me said: ‘Yeah, that’s really good work. I’m on my 130th,’ so I thought: ‘Oh, okay.' It’s not really a big deal.”

Little says it’s just her very small way of giving back to the community.

“We all do what we can,” she says. “Different people do different things. It’s pretty a low investment on my part.”