Greg Byron has donated 157 times as a blood donor. He drives in Penticton from his home town of Osoyoos to donate each time. He will be donating on Christmas Eve. (Submitted)

Greg Byron has donated 157 times as a blood donor. He drives in Penticton from his home town of Osoyoos to donate each time. He will be donating on Christmas Eve. (Submitted)

Okanagan man to make 157th blood donation on Christmas Eve

The Osoyoos man has been donating since he was 17

Every eight weeks or so, Gregory Byron drives 100 kilometres round-trip from his home in Osoyoos to Penticton to give blood.

“It’s an hour’s drive each way but I can usually combine blood donation with other things to do in Penticton,” he said.

Gregory began donating blood in July 1969 when he was 17-years-old. He made his first donation the same week Neil Armstrong first stepped on the moon, he noted.

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He has donated blood regularly for over 50 years and attended donor events in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. He and his wife moved from the Lower Mainland to Osoyoos in 2007.

In August 2019, Gregory marked his milestone 150th blood donation and has 160 donations in sight. On Christmas Eve in Penticton, he will make his 157th donation.

He knows the last two weeks of December are generally a challenging time to collect blood. He also knows by donating blood this holiday season, he can make saving a life his greatest gift.

“The need is constant. But with a great following of core donors like Gregory, it’s great help,” said Gayle Voyer, Okanagan territory manager for Canada Blood Service.

Blood only stores for 42 days so that is why the need is constant, she said.

There is always a need for O negative blood because that is a universal donor type.

The blood donor clinics are adhering to all the safety protocols including doing wellness checks at the door, social distancing the beds and having people take their nutrition snack to go.

“Our top priority is keeping our donors safe,” said Voyer.

The donor clinics run at the Penticton donation centre at 2965 South Main Street Wednesday, Dec. 23 from 1 to 5:45 p.m. and on Dec. 24 from 11:30 a.m to 4:15 p.m.

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