He lost 80% of his blood in a shooting — now he’s a donor advocate

Paul Dragan, considered “clinically dead” after being shot by an ex-employee outside his Vancouver bike shop in 2014, says he ‘wouldn’t be alive right now if I didn’t get the blood from someone else.’

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The gifts of strangers brought him back to life roughly eight years ago, and now, a Vancouver man plans to continue the kindness by donating blood on Tuesday.

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Paul Dragan was considered “clinically dead” after being shot by a former employee outside his Yaletown bike shop in June 2014 — until he received 60 units of blood at a Vancouver hospital, which allowed oxygen to recirculate to his brain.

The 60-year-old is urging others to head to their local Blood Services centre and join Canada’s Lifeline of blood donation during National Blood Donor Week. The group said it will need 100,000 new donors this year to keep up with growing demand during COVID-19, which led to a steep decline in regular donors. Since the start of April, national blood inventory reserves supplied by 400,000 Canadians regularly giving blood have dropped by a quarter.

“I’m asking everyone who can to donate,” Dragan said. “I wouldn’t be alive right now if I didn’t get the blood from someone else.”

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The Vancouver resident sports a 70-centimetre scar across his chest as the result of an incision from trauma surgeon Dr. Morad Hameed, who manually massaged his heart, kick-starting blood flow to his brain during his first minutes in the hospital.

“I am so grateful for the doctors who helped me, but they were paid. It is only through their sheer generosity that I was given blood from donors.”

After being replenished in-hospital after losing 80 per cent of his own blood from the bullet wound in his chest, Dragan said Vancouver General was on alert, asking other Metro Vancouver hospitals if they had extra stores.

“It’s why it’s so important to donate regularly,” Dragan said.

Canadian Blood Services operates a national inventory that allows products to be regularly shifted around the country to more than 600 hospitals. But the inventory has a shelf life — 42 days for red blood cells and five days for platelets — so it takes some work to ensure supply continues to meet demand.

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“You don’t know how important it is, you assume there’s enough of it until you need some yourself,” he said.

Since his near-death experience, Dragan now donates blood each year alongside his wife Ericka and their 13-year-old son Max.

“It only takes an hour. You will save lives,” he said.

To book an appointment to donate visit blood.ca or call 1-888-2-DONATE.

sgrochowski@postmedia.com


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