split image of Josephine Michaluk giving blood

Josephine Michaluk, 80, from Alberta, Canada, has lost a lot of blood over the years.

More accurately, she’s given it away.

Josephine has donated 203 units of blood throughout her life, saving the lives of countless other people and setting a world record for the most whole blood donated (female).

One unit of blood is approximately equivalent to one US pint (473 ml).

The amount of blood in a person’s body depends on their size, however, the average adult has around 10 pints (4.7 l), accounting for around 10% of their body weight.

The previous record was 117 units donated by Madhura Ashok Kumar (India).

Josephine gives blood for the 203rd time

Josephine has been donating blood for almost six decades, beginning in 1965 at age 22.

She was roped into it while visiting her older sister, who had a blood donation appointment and asked Josephine to tag along.

“I decided I would join her and that was the beginning,” Josephine recalled.

Josephine gives up one unit of her blood every time she donates.

“I feel like I have it in me to give,” she said when asked why she does it. “I can share it to people that need it.”

Josephine’s blood type is O+, which is in high demand by hospitals because it's the most common. According to the American Red Cross, 37% of USA’s population is Type O+.

In the USA, there is no upper age limit for blood donation as long as the donor is in good health, and Josephine says she plans to keep it up for as long as she’s alive.

Before she gives blood, checks are carried out to ensure she is in good shape, and her iron level is tested to make sure it’s sufficiently high enough.

Josephine doesn’t find the procedure painful “and never did.” In fact, she says she feels “energetic” after each donation, despite having lost a pint of blood.

And despite recently entering her eighties, her rate of donation has not slowed down at all, still averaging over four per year.

There have been several years when she was unable to donate, as women are unable to give blood during the nine months they’re pregnant and for an entire year afterwards.

Josephine had four children, which made her ineligible for donation during those years. She has also had several surgeries which rendered her unable to give blood for a year after each one.

Josephine Michaluk with token gifts given for her donations

Josephine hopes to inspire more people to give blood, and she encourages all eligible people to do so.

“There should be a lot more people doing it. There is such a high demand for blood to save lives,” she explained.

Whole blood can be used to treat patients undergoing cancer therapy, organ transplants, and diseases requiring blood transfusions.

After a donation, the body’s blood plasma is replenished within a day, however, it takes red blood cells four to six weeks to return to normal levels.

For this reason, donors must wait at least eight weeks before they give blood again, limiting them to a maximum of six donations per year.

Josephine never expected to set a Guinness World Records title when she began donating blood back in 1965, but she said it feels “spectacular!”

“I never even thought I would have a record; I was not donating for that reason. And I plan on keeping on.”

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