Canadian Woman Celebrates 100th Blood Donation

At age 72, Elsie Seltzer celebrated her 100th blood donation with Canadian Blood Services community development manager Maureen Macfarlane at the Stratford Rotary Complex Tuesday afternoon. (Galen Simmons/The Beacon Herald)


Elsie Seltzer, a resident of Stratford, has reached a goal she’s been striving toward since she was just 17 years old.


At the Canadian Blood Services donor center in the Stratford Rotary Complex on Tuesday in the late afternoon, Seltzer, now 72, gave her 100th unit of blood.


“I have all kinds of feelings,” Seltzer said while waiting to give blood. “I’m excited. You know, when you check off something that’s on your bucket list, it’s just, ‘Wow, I did that. I really did that.’”


Seltzer claimed that two males in her life inspired her to donate blood. The first was her father, who informed her of the impact frequent blood donations may have on people’s lives. When she was 17, he accompanied her to her first blood donation center so they could both give.


“He said, ‘This is how you save somebody’s life. You’re just an ordinary person living an ordinary life, but you’re going to save people’s lives,’” she recalled.


While Seltzer and her father continued to make donations together, she claimed that life finally got in the way due to marriage, having children, and moving. But when Seltzer was in her 30s, she happened to be reading the Ridgetown newspaper and came across an article about how prominent local jeweler Fred Mitton had just celebrated giving 100 units of blood.


“I thought, ‘I can do that,’” Seltzer said. “He wrote a nice article about making a difference and helping your community, that kind of thing. I just made up my mind that day and said, ‘OK, I’m going to do this.’ With three kids, five moves and all the other things, it’s been tricky, but I just thought about him, I thought about my dad, and I thought, ‘Yeah, I can do this.’ ”


Naturally, Elsie’s husband Brad Seltzer was by her side the entire time, giving blood when he was able to. He frequently challenged her to a competition to see who could make their gift fastest, but he also occasionally just offered his encouragement as she made progress toward this goal.


“She humbles me,” he said Tuesday.


Elsie’s 100th donation is even more remarkable because she gives whole blood, which contains red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets, and plasma, according to Canadian Blood Services community development manager Maureen Macfarlane, who was present Tuesday to commemorate the achievement. Women can only donate whole blood once every 84 days, or around four times a year, compared to men who can do so every 56 days.


“Less than four per cent of the eligible population donates blood,” Macfarlane said. “One in two people can donate, but one in 81 do, so this is amazing. I love (Elsie’s) story. I love (her) message because (she) really is making all the difference for patients in need. It can be those trauma patients, it can be someone who needs blood products as a life-sustaining medicine that they get on a regular basis. … We really need to shine the light.


“We are coming in to National Blood Donor week in a couple weeks and we’re really trying to shine the light on the constant need for blood. We need those young people to come out and really start a new tradition of saving those lives. It is something ordinary people can do to help save a life.”


According to Macfarlane, the nurses and staff at Canadian Blood Services make it simple and comfortable for individuals who are eager to donate blood. Using the organization’s app, donors can easily keep track of their appointments and even monitor their own blood health.


According to Elsie, the knowledge that each of her 100 blood donations may have saved the lives of as many as three people is more than enough to persuade her to tell her experience in the hopes of motivating another person to give blood for the first time or to commit to reaching the same milestone.


“It’s so easy,” Elsie said. “All you have to do is show up.”


For more information on donating blood and to find a list of upcoming blood-donation clinics near you, visit

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