Hugo Sutmoller, 81, donates blood at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on Saanich Road. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Cordova Bay resident makes 300th blood donation

First time blood donor inspired by Saanich’s Hugo Sutmoller

If it wasn’t for his dad’s regular blood donations during the Second World War in the Netherlands, little Hugo Sutmoller would likely have gone years with out a bit of eggs and cheese.

Sutmoller’s dad would donate the blood to whoever needed it in the community in return for extra rations.

Not that it was a plentiful return of food stuffs, but it was more than anyone else was getting, said Sutmoller. The 81-year-old Cordova Bay resident told the story while he recently donated blood for the 300th time at the Canadian Blood Services in Saanich.

“It was a big occasion [when my father donated blood],” Sutmoller said. “We’d get things we wouldn’t see otherwise, eggs and other things that normally would be confiscated by German occupiers.”

On Tuesday, when Sutmoller taped up for his 300th-and-something blood donation, he was joined by someone new.

Sutmoller gave 500 millilitres simultaneously while next to him young Ryan Miller, an Albertan teenager fresh out of high school, drew his first litre of blood (Miller finished first). Miller, a Sooke-based outdoor guide for the summer, came into town to make the donation and was game to take part in a special event at the clinic marking National Blood Donor Week.

Because it was his first time, the volunteers at the clinic suggested Miller partner with Sutmoller in hopes of inspiring not only Miller, but also a new wave of donors. (Miller only has 60 years to go to catch up Sutmoller.)

“It only took six minutes and I understand it’s three people per bag, so that’s only two minutes per person, I feel like that’s an easy thing to do to help someone,” Miller said.

“There’s no excuse for people not to give blood,” said Sutmoller, who first donated blood when he arrived to Canada in 1954 as a 19-year-old at Ontario Veterinary College. Sutmoller then practised as a vet in Alberta, giving blood and plasma there until he relocated to Cordova Bay 14 years ago.

“People have up to an extra litre of blood in their system,” Sutmoller said. “The blood [bank] supply relies heavily upon steady donations of blood. I’m a strong supporter of our universal health care and believe this is an essential part that fits in well with the system.”

It’s true Sutmoller’s father was his role model for donating blood,” Sutmoller said.

“He donated blood even before the Second World War, his blood type [o-negative] was unique. There was storage problems for blood during the war years so he was on standby. He told stories that he’d go to give blood and the recipient would be next door. They’d walk his blood over in a glass beaker, mix the anti-clotting agent, and turn it upside down to go in the vein.”

Going forward, Sutmoller plans on continuing to give blood, barring any unforeseen health circumstances.

“I biked home after giving 500ml on Tuesday and I felt fine, just so people are aware,” Sutmoller said.

Canadian Blood Services are in need of blood and hold several pop-up clinics across Greater Victoria as well as the 3449 Saanich Rd. clinic.

To donate blood visit blood.ca to book a time.