One of the values that our firm prides itself on is giving back to the community, something we do in a number of different ways. One example of our community commitment is our participation in the Partners for Life program at Canadian Blood Services, a voluntary program for organizations and businesses to donate blood. By getting together by organization, we rally each other to donate, thus increasing our overall contribution to the shortage of blood donors in Canada.
In early March, I attended an appreciation luncheon for the participants of this program. While I am one of several regular blood donors in the firm, I’d never been to such an event and didn’t know what to expect. Three powerful speakers took the floor at the event and by the time I left, I was struck by the impact that a simple blood donation can have.
The Director of Canadian Blood Services for BC said that in the next few years we need to grow our regular donor pool in the Okanagan by 100 to meet the existing demand for blood. Given that we are only presently at 400, that’s a tall order. In essence, demand is threatening to outstrip supply and he called on all members of this program to help bring in those new donors.
A Little Girl
The second speaker was a local Kelowna resident, whose 2-year-old daughter ran into serious health problems. The toddler’s health issues initially surfaced as bruising and it was determined that her white blood cells were not producing platelets. She was just weeks away from dying when she was diagnosed.
The young girl underwent a bone marrow transplant, which was successful and, in a remarkable turn, her blood type changed. The blood cells being produced in her body now carry a different DNA code from that of her own. She would be dead but for this transplant, which is now two years in the past. Her father reminded us we are all likely connected to someone that has or will benefit from blood or blood products from Canadian Blood Services.
The third speaker was a young, 20-year-old woman named Kelly, a UBCO student, identical twin, and a ballet dancer / teacher. She was in the prime of her life, in peak fitness shape, and a happy young woman when her doctor diagnosed a health problem that prompted him to call 911 from the clinic. Her iron levels were at 0 and her hemoglobin was at 50 and dropping. It was debatable how much longer she would have lived without a blood transfusion, perhaps weeks at most.
She was taken away on a stretcher and given what was to be the first of now bi-weekly blood transfusions that she continues to receive and shared what it’s like to not have sufficient blood supply. It saps her energy and emotions. Kelly said that blood transfusions have saved her life many times and she marvels at the selflessness of people that donate; People that do so with no compulsion or even direct reason. She questioned whether these people realize the importance and effect of donating blood.
It takes Kelly three hours to receive one unit of blood. Her veins cannot take an IV anymore, so she has a “module” installed on her chest through which she receives blood. Due to the number of transfusions she has received, her body has become very sensitive to receiving blood and she takes Gravol and Benadryl to guard against reactions every time she receives a transfusion. This is a woman in the prime of her life, now entirely dependent on transfusions every two weeks. She would die without them.
A Gift From The Heart
There are many ways for organizations to give back to the community, but giving blood is something special. You cannot buy blood in Canada. Donors are not paid. It really and truly comes from the heart.
Downtown Kelowna Blood Donor Clinic
On Friday, June 10th from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Canadian Blood Services is hosting its first ever Downtown Kelowna blood donor clinic. Held at the Laurel Packing House, this is a great opportunity for our neighbours in downtown Kelowna to give back in a very meaningful way. To book your appointment visit www.blood.ca or download the Giveblood App on Andriod and on iTunes. Check your eligibility before you book by visiting the Eligibility Quiz on Blood.ca. You can also encourage your friends, co-workers, bosses, and family to join the fun! For groups of 3 or more, email [email protected] with your times and how many appointments you need.
Canadian Blood Services operates a dedicated donation clinic in Kelowna, located at 103 – 1865 Dilworth Drive, across from Orchard Park Shopping Centre.