Lethbridge college nursing student recruits 40 first-time plasma donors, earns $3,000 bursary


Eliza Poettcker has donated plasma many times in her life.

But recently, the Lethbridge College nursing student has been busy getting others to roll up their sleeves for the first time.

It started when she joined a bursary program put on by Canadian Blood Services.

Post-secondary students around the country were tasked to get as many people as possible to donate plasma for the first time.

Poettcker did better than anyone, managing to get 40 people to donate for the first time.

“A lot of them were my co-workers or friends and other students that were in my program,” said Poettcker.

“So it was kind of just day-to-day interactions. I’d be talking to a friend and be like, ‘Hey, do you want to come donate plasma with me?’ or ‘I’m doing this bursary program – you should come donate with me.'”

For her efforts, she took home the grand prize of a $3,000 bursary for her education.

While the prize is nice, she’s happy just to have been able to start a dialogue with others.

“I feel like even if I didn’t get a number and didn’t get someone to come in and donate, it was still a good conversation to have and kind of bring up,” said Poettcker.

“Now it’s something that’s on people’s minds and even if they weren’t comfortable then donating, I feel like it’s something they might do in the future.”

It’s a nice boost in donations during a time of year when they’re badly needed.

The holiday season is often the time of year when donations are needed the most.

“Right now, there is a lot of different illnesses going around, whether it be colds, flus, RSV, COVID. So we do see a higher cancellation rate around the holidays, just with people getting sick and not being able to come in to donate,” said Brenna Scott, business development manager with Canadian Blood Services.

“And then when we don’t have great weather, we do see cancellations from that as well.”

The hope is to bring back the bursary program in the future.

“We did have 12 students participating in the contest, and each of them brought in anywhere from 10 to 40 donors, so we really saw a big uptick in new donors. And a lot of students as well. It’s great to have that younger generation coming in to donate,” said Scott.

“We saw it as a very positive program.”

There are still hundreds of appointment openings for December in Lethbridge.

For information on how to donate, visit the Canadian Blood Services website.

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