By Toni Erasmus

Thea, a shining diamond, is a testament to strength at 85, a resilient spirit born and bred in Kimberley. Her journey led her to Cape Town in 1966, where she embarked on a 30-year career at Caltex Refinery, known today as Astron Energy.

With green fingers, a hearty sense of humour, a love for baking and an unwavering commitment to helping others through blood donation, Thea embodies a remarkable life. Her introduction to blood donation in 1971 came through her late husband, whose motivation pushed her past the initial fear of needles. Despite her initial fear, she bravely lay on the donation bed, determined to make a difference.

Gradually, blood donation became a routine for her, continuing at work, where she fondly remembers different companies competing to see who could donate the most blood. After becoming a mother to three children, she couldn’t donate for a while, and her high blood pressure caused further delay – this was the only pause in her remarkable journey as a blood donor.

Given her age, Thea had to obtain medical clearance to continue donating blood, and she’s now limited to four donations per year. Yet, she remains fearless, guided by her belief that donating blood is a way of helping someone in need. She truly cherishes receiving a free health check each time she donates, a reminder that she’s still full of life and vitality.

To date, Thea has donated an astonishing 198 times, aiming to reach the monumental milestone of 200 units next year, saving up to 600 lives. “For as long as I am healthy, I will continue to donate blood to help those who need it,” says Thea passionately.

Thea’s enduring attitude is simple: as long as she is healthy, she will continue to donate to save lives. Her determination springs from a vivid memory of a motorcycle accident that unfolded in front of her home, where her children pleaded for help to save the injured and bleeding man. This emotional moment opened her heart wider to the needs of others, clearly seen through her actions today.

She said that her experience with us has been exceptional. She describes the staff as kind and gentle, caring for her veins. Today, Thea is not just a donor but also an inspiration to those who, like her, feel anxious at the sight of needles. She hopes to encourage others to trust the process when she heads to the blood donation centre.

With six grandchildren, she often tells them the importance of blood donation, teaching them that even at 85, she recognises the need to maintain her health. Thea continues to hit the gym, stay in shape, and follow a healthy diet. Her granddaughter Shari, inspired by her grandmother’s dedication, often accompanies her to N1 City Mall for blood donation.

The story of Thea’s life is a powerful reminder that age is no barrier to making a difference. Her unwavering commitment to helping others is an inspiring example for us all.