I was inspired to begin donating blood many years ago when I first started working full-time. I have always been a proponent of giving, and volunteering as a means of building a sense of community and giving back. After my Mom passed away, she became my inspiration to many family members to become blood donors, and to also contribute financially.
My connection to the blood donation and Canada's lifeline was strengthened by a very personal experience that began in July 2007. My mother was diagnosed with lung cancer that summer. Following extensive tests, her treaters determined that removal of her 2 cm tumour would be the best road to a full recovery. We were elated when we were told that she likely wouldn't even require any kind of post surgery cancer treatment; one simple surgery and she would be out of the woods. Our hopes were high! We are a close nit family - my Mom, sisters, aunts and cousins are my besties. There are many strong women in my family, we make up a strong support system. Mom would have this contingent of women behind her all the way...
On September 7, 2017 my Dad and I kissed and hugged my Mom as she was wheeled into the surgical suite for the removal of her tumour. I called my three sisters to tell them Mom was in surgery and that I would let them know as soon as she was out. It was early September, the Ottawa General Hospital United Way campaign was kicking off. Dad and I knew we had a long day of waiting ahead of us, we decided to check out the United Way breakfast to take our minds off things, and make a financial donation while there.
I will never forget that day, we were shocked when her thoracic surgeon came out to tell us that her right lung was no longer viable, and that they had needed to remove the entire right lung. She explained that my Mom would still make a full recovery and carry on to live a full life with only her left lung. OK, this was a setback but we remained optimistic and hopeful. I saw my Mom briefly that day, her cheeks were pink and she was smiling. Our hearts were filled with hope! I was grateful that day for the donors who had made my Mom's surgery possible. With the significant turn her surgery had taken that day, she required additional blood products - and they were there.
Unfortunately, a few days post surgery our hopes were dashed, my Mom's health made a steep decline. Several tests, and medications later her surgical team decided they needed to take her back into surgery on September 17. We settled in for another anxiety filled morning of waiting. Shortly after the procedure began, my Mom's arterial stump was affected, she began to bleed significantly. What we didn't know at that time was that her arterial repair post surgery had been seeping. Things went from bad to worse as the team did their best to repair the damage. An incredible amount of blood and blood products were used to try to save my Mom that day. Heroic measures were taken. Tragically, my Mom did not recover, and our world crumbled. It took a long time for my family to heal from losing my Mom, she was our family's glue. She was a stay at home Mom all her life, and we were her life. She was only 64.
Working at Canadian Blood Services, I was then and remain keenly aware of what it took to help my Mom, and our family through her initial surgery, and in trying to save her life. It takes incredibly giving people to book appointments, to make a donation, and keep coming back regularly to do it again. It takes the team testing and processing all blood components, and preparing them for shipment to hospitals. It takes treaters and nurses, it takes a family to make all of this happen. These connections are part of a system that relies heavily on all pieces working together to bring hope to patients and their families across Canada.
Even though my Mom's story did not end well, I remain very grateful that the blood products were available that day to give my Mom a fighting chance. I carry my experience with me everyday, and strive to make connections to give back to the system I counted on, without knowing I was ever going to need it. Thank you for your incredible gift!