Why I Donate with Canadian Blood Services

Did you know GeoVerra recently signed up with Canadian Blood Services and its Partners for Life program? It’s one of the commitments the company has made as a part of its GV Gives Back initiative. Here’s a personal story from our director of marketing and communications on why she donates.

Picture this: you’re 16 years old, loving life and your only care in the world is what shirt to pair with your puka shell necklace and how embarrassed you are that you ended up as a Math Star on the math hallway wall.

That was me.

Life was easy (relatively speaking). Family life was great (aside from the typical fights all teens have with their parents).

But on March 16, 2002, everything changed.

I was at a sleepover at a friend’s house when I was quickly woken up by her parents around 9 a.m., and I was told my mom was being picked up at our house by an ambulance.

My friend’s dad must have been speeding because we pulled up when the ambulance was still there. I’ll never forget walking up the driveway, past my mom being rolled out on a stretcher. I was so scared that I didn’t say a word and just walked into the house like any other Saturday.

It turns out my mom had angina, which feels like a heart attack, but rather is a warning sign that you could be at risk of a full-blown attack. It’s caused by a blockage in an artery. My mom, who was the epitome of health for her age (49), didn’t drink (not one bit), didn’t smoke and exercised 3-4 times a week. It turns out her blockage was brought on by arteriosclerosis (aka plaque build-up) which can be caused by stress. Yup, you heard it here folks – stress can cause serious health issues. Mind-blowing stuff, am I right?

They needed to insert a stint into her artery to increase blood flow which is a procedure that happens at every major hospital in Canada, sometimes multiple times a day.

Unfortunately, in my mom’s case, the routine procedure went wrong and the fellow (position after a residency) knicked her femoral artery. It wasn’t until 12 hours after the angioplasty that they discovered the bleed. I bet you can imagine the type of pain my mom was in with an abdomen full of blood.

It was 2 or 3 a.m. when I rushed to the hospital with my sister to see my dad leaning on the Cardiac ICU’s reception desk with his head buried in his hands. He was being asked to sign a piece of paper that allowed my mom to have emergency surgery – a surgery in which she had a 50/50 chance of living.

She lost about six times of blood and fluid that a person her size would have. It took 72 units of blood to keep her going through the night during the emergency 4-hour vascular surgery. What does this mean? 72 people had to give blood for my mom to live.

I’m happy to report the surgery was successful. Even though my mom has had numerous complications and procedures over the years, she is here and healthy.

The point of this is that if 72 people didn’t take an hour out of their day, my mom would no longer be here. She would have left behind a loving husband, two great kids (one being me, of course) and would never have lived to see us get married or welcome three wonderful grandchildren into the world.

Because of the surgery and follow-up procedures, my mom cannot donate, but I am. I admit I got out of the routine when COVID came about, but I’m happy to report I donated again for the first time in a year and a half at the end of May and I’ll do it again in another 84 days when I’m eligible.

I encourage you to do the same. It doesn’t take much time and there are clinics all across Canada. If you’re female, you can donate once every 84 days (essentially once a quarter) and men can donate every 56 days.

Lastly, if you want to donate but don’t feel comfortable, reach out to someone you trust and ask them to go with you. The staff at Canadian Blood Services are wonderful and so kind, especially with first-time donors.

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