It’s In You To Give

I was 19 years old the first time I donated blood. I was with my sister—who I suppose would have been 14 at the time—and we were driving past the church in the small town we grew up in and saw they were having a blood drive. I don’t exactly remember how it happened, and maybe Kimberley can chime in here if she remembers, but before I knew it the two of us were sitting in comfy recliners with a tourniquet wrapped around our forearms. We donated our pint, we drank our juice and ate our cookies, and we left that afternoon feeling fully empowered, feeling that we’d just done something awesome.

I donated sporadically over the next five years, until I got to the point where I found myself just booking my next appointment as I left the one previous. I still felt that thrill of having done something awesome, like I’d just saved someone’s life without having done anything at all. I always felt so proud after leaving a blood donation appointment.

Fast forward to September 20th, the day Nyana was born and our lives changed forever. I lost nearly three litres of blood during the delivery and subsequent surgery to remove the placenta. My haemoglobin levels plummeted and I found myself consenting to not one but three blood transfusions over the next week; the doctors were pushing for a fourth transfusion as I was pushing for discharge. Despite the transfusions, it would take hundreds of iron pills over the coming months to shake the constant fatigue I felt from losing so much blood. Because of those transfusions, my blood donation days were over for at least a year.

Nyana didn’t fare much better in her first couple of months in the NICU; in her first hundred days she received no fewer than four transfusions of her own. I look at Don today in all his awesomeness—and look around at the happy little family we’ve built for ourselves—and I’m dumbfounded to think that he came so close to losing it all. That without the kindness of strangers who were willing to take an hour out of their day to donate, there’s a very good chance that this story would be much shorter and much more tragic.

So I’m asking humbly on behalf of Nyana, for all members of her Army who are able, to book an appointment to donate a pint. In just over two months she’ll reach her first birthday, and we’ll all be able to reflect on the year we’ve just endured thanks to the kindness of strangers. We’ll be thankful to people like you and me who appreciate just how much is riding on one simple act, of just taking an hour out of your day. I’ve started an event on Facebook and I encourage all of Nyana’s Army to sign the wall and commit to a one-time donation in Nyana’s name.

In Canada, call 1-888-2-DONATE to book an appointment, or visit to learn more. If you’re stateside, contact the Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit to book an appointment. If one hundred people each donate a pint, that’s enough to save the lives of more than 300 people. 500 people could easily help more than a thousand. For all the times I sat in that recliner and gave my donation, I never in a million years ever imagined that I would be in a position where I—and my daughter—would be dependent on someone else making that donation too.

Blood. It’s in you to give.


About Mrs. B

Wife, mother, marketer--not always in that order. Lover of fine food, good company, and exceptional grammar. Mother of one former micro-preemie and one full-term monster baby. Building childhood memories in Vancouver's suburbs.
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7 Responses to It’s In You To Give

  1. Tasha says:

    I would love to donate in Ny’s name! I just have to wait till December…I never realized until I tried to make an appointment that if you’re rh negative and received the rhogam shot during pregnancy, you have to wait a full year for it to be out of your system.

  2. Kimberley says:

    Well Karen, I do remember that day, and you have it pretty much bang on… it was a very spontaneous decision… we drove past and both said it was something we wanted to do so you turned the car around and we went in… you had to claim to be my gaurdian because I was a minor and wouldn’t have been allowed otherwise… and my next appointment has been confirmed… July 28th 5:05pm 🙂

  3. I wish I could join the group, but I promise when I’m allowed to give blood again.. that would assuming three years from about now if I’m still considered cancer free.. then I get permission to give again. You have to wait five years after cancer. But I’ll dedicate the first successful donation to Nyana. If possible it will be platelets. They like my platelets because I’m CMV (cytomegalovirus) free.. good for premies and cancer patients, AIDs pts, transplant pts.

    I had a one year gap after knee surgery because I was given an allograft of actual cartiledge.
    Same restrictions for bone marrow donation. I was on the registry until I aged out, but would still donate marrow in a heartbeat if I could.

    You were very mature young women to give at that age, and keep on giving! And I agree, it is such a good feeling. Men are lucky in that they often simply have more blood volume and can bang out a donation more easily or a double of platelets.

    I hope Nyana is making good progress, processing those files ;-)~ Cute picture.

  4. Max's Mum says:

    Thanks for doing this Karen.
    Max is here thanks to the kindness of blood donation too.
    I’ll definitely be heading back to the donation chair. 🙂

  5. d says:

    I have a dear friend whose favourite thing to do is give blood – she once worked in an office that would pay her time to go and donate, and she liked the idea that she was both helping, and getting a cookie for it. Years later, self-employed, she still makes the time, for the helping feeling, the break in her day, and for the cookie.

    One thing I’ve always found a bit disconcerting is the discrimination element – granted, it’s been a couple of years (four? five? shame on me …) so things may have changed, but at that time the accompanying questionnaire prevents homosexual activity as a criterion for donating. I also recently heard that gays cannot be organ donors. If I needed a kidney (or a blood transfusion) to save my life, I don’t think I’d care about the dating habits of my donor.

  6. I just looked it up and Powell River does not have a blood donation clinic (which is utterly ridiculous, if you ask me). I’m coming to Vancouver in September though, so I will try then 🙂

  7. Pingback: Eleven Months | Adventures Of The Sunshine Brigade

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