In a letter to Canadian Blood Services, Joly said for two years, she had been waiting for the chance to participate in the blood drives at her school. This year, she said she learned that the last drive was just a few days short of her birthday, meaning I wouldn’t be old enough to donate.
“Knowing this, I came to a remarkably simple conclusion: I’d just donate on my birthday,” she wrote in her letter. “When people asked me what I was doing for my birthday, I’d tell them that my plan was to go to the clinic. When they asked why, I realized that I wasn’t really sure how to put it into words."
She thought for a long time about how she could explain to people why she was so adamant to donate blood. She said she might have been inspired by her medical technology course, where students learned about the importance of blood and organ donation. Or maybe it was the stories of selfless people changing a stranger’s life, she said.
“Whatever started the idea, I knew I had to follow through with it. I try to take pride in my work; my projects, assignments and presentations, but out of everything that I’ve done with my life so far, this is what I’m most proud of.
“I can’t cure cancer, or solve global hunger, or create world peace; but I can do this. I have the potential to save someone’s life with 20 minutes of my time and a tiny prick in my arm. So my answer now, when people ask me why I donate blood, is 'Why not?'"
It's that type of attitude at Lockerby that propelled the local high school to sixth spot in Canadian Blood Service's Young Blood for Life challenge. While Joly's first-ever donation wasn't counted in the challenge, 229 of her peers did donate in the challenge – 78 of which were first-time donors.
The local school helped Canadian Blood Services exceed its targets for both blood collections and new donors by 154 per cent and 127 per cent respectively. Young Blood for Life is a student-led challenge designed to increase blood donations and first-time donors among students age 17 and over.
Collectively, students across the country donated 18,339 units of blood. A total of 6,873 new donors gave blood within the campaign period. Students recruited teachers, friends and family to donate on behalf of their school.
“We are delighted that we continue to lead the way in blood donations," Lockerby Composite School principal Heather Gaffney said. “This is a tribute to our students, staff and their families who have donated blood over the past four years and recognize the importance of giving the gift of life.
“I would like to commend teacher Ian Gray for his ongoing leadership. The impressive results once again this year are a reflection of each donor's commitment to making our community a better place to be by helping those in need. I am proud of our students and our school community for their efforts.”
Taking first spot in the challenge was St. Joseph in Windsor, Ont., with 317 donations; however, only 20 donations separated Lockerby and the second-place finisher, which managed to recruit 249 donors.
For finishing sixth in all of Canada, Lockerby received $150 from Canadian Blood Services. That doesn't even come close to speaking to the volume of how many people Lockerby students have helped through their donations, Annie Barrette, communications specialist, said.
“We are thrilled and ecstatic by the results of the challenge,” Barrette said. “Not just with Lockerby itself, but with all students across the city.”
Many students regularly donate now that they've turned 17, with a lot of them coming back every 56 days, and that “speaks volumes to their commitment,” she said. “Every student who rolls up their sleeve and donates blood is instrumental in insuring patients needing that blood do, in fact, get it.”
At least one local high school per week attends donation clinics, she said. Hopefully, those students continue to donate throughout the summer, when the need for blood is at its highest. Unfortunately, donations decrease over the summer months, because people are busy with vacations; however, the need for blood is just as high, if not higher, Barrette said.
Knowing that this year, Canadian Blood Services needs to recruit more than 89,000 new donors to keep pace with the growing demand for blood and blood products across Canada, Sue Blasutti, executive director of Donor and Clinic Services, said, “It’s exciting to see youth across the country making such a significant contribution to Canada’s blood system.”
Students in Sudbury can continue to rally together to save lives throughout the summer, Barrette said. Here are a few ways:
- Assignment Saving Lives offers the opportunity for students to qualify for academic bursaries by recruiting 20 donors — five of whom must be new donors — from June 1 to Sept. 3 2012. For participating locations and information, visit www.blood.ca.
- You can give blood every 56 days, so chances are you can include one or two donations in your summer plans. Call 1 888 2 DONATE (1 888 236 6283) for clinic locations or to book an appointment.
- Consider showing off your creative talents by participating in Canadian Blood Services’ first-ever Art Showcase. Every day, donors light up the lives of patients who rely on their generous donations. Canadian Blood Services is asking people to submit their art that captures the theme, Lighting Up Lives. Submissions that best represent the theme will be showcased at Canadian Blood Services’ Honouring Our Lifeblood recognition event on Sept. 10, 2012 at the National Art Gallery in Ottawa. Submissions can be made from now until Aug. 17 through social media channels and by email. For details, visit www.blood.ca/lightinguplives.
Canadian Blood Services operates 42 permanent collection sites and more than 20,000 donor clinics annually. To book an appointment or for more information, visit us at www.blood.ca or call 1 888 2 DONATE. Follow Canadian Blood Services on Twitter @itsinyoutogive, or visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CanadianBloodServices and see our YouTube channel at 18882DONATE.
Posted by Arron Pickard