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Donations slow to a trickle at Christmas, Canadian Blood Services says

By: Heidi Ulrichsen - Sudbury Northern Life

 | Dec 31, 2013 - 11:58 AM |
Nine-year-old Karissa Kruk required more than 40 blood transfusions as she battled leukemia in 2012 and early 2013 at Toronto's Sick Kids Hospital. Her father, Dave Kruk, donated his blood for the first time Dec. 30. Photo by Heidi Ulrichsen.

Nine-year-old Karissa Kruk required more than 40 blood transfusions as she battled leukemia in 2012 and early 2013 at Toronto's Sick Kids Hospital. Her father, Dave Kruk, donated his blood for the first time Dec. 30. Photo by Heidi Ulrichsen.

Leukemia survivor's family gives back by giving blood

Dave Kruk's seven kids crowd into the room to watch as a Canadian Blood Services nurse slips a needle into a vein in his arm, and his blood quickly starts filling a donation bag.

One of them — nine-year-old Karissa — is no stranger to needles herself. In 2012 and early 2013, she was treated for leukemia at Toronto's Sick Kids Hospital, and required more than 40 blood transfusions.

Dave donated his blood for the first time in honour of Karissa at a Dec. 30 blood donation clinic. Several other friends and members of his extended family — including his oldest daughter, 20-year-old Mariah — also made blood donations.

When asked about the importance of donating blood, the 50-year-old father becomes emotional.

“From everything she's gone through and we've seen down at Sick Kids hospital with all the other kids, I'm so glad to do this,” he said. “With Karissa, there were days she needed (blood transfusions) on a daily basis.”

Dave said he didn't find the blood donation process difficult or painful, and plans to donate regularly in the future.

Mariah, a music performance student at Cambrian College, said she actually donated blood once before as a teenager attending Sudbury Secondary School.

“At the time, my sister wasn't sick,” she said. “You hear about people needing blood, so I went in and did it through my high school. When Karissa got sick it made me realize it's important and people need to donate blood if they can.”

Karissa's mother, Terra, isn't eligible to donate right now because she's nearly eight months pregnant with the couple's eighth child.

“I wish I could,” she said. “I will start as soon as my six months after the baby is born is up. Then I can donate blood.”

Terra said she thinks Karissa — who was too shy to speak to reporters — understands the significance of what was happening at the blood clinic. “She was old enough to be aware of when she was actually getting the transfusions,” she said.

Annan Zubal, Canadian Blood Services' Sudbury area community development co-ordinator, said the organization tries to collect 32 units of blood each day.

However, fewer people donate during the holidays, making it difficult to reach that goal, he said.

On this day though, the 40 donors who showed up Dec. 30 means the daily goal was met.
“If we did not have this special day, would would have under-collected,” he said.

Having the Kruk family at the clinic provided an opportunity for Canadian Blood Services workers to hear how the organization's work helped save a life, said Debra Kerr, clinic supervisor with the organization.

“It gives meaning to the time and donations they give,” she said.

To learn more about Canadian Blood Services, visit blood.ca or phone 1-888-2-DONATE.

@heidi_ulrichsen
Heidi Ulrichsen

Heidi Ulrichsen

Staff Writer

@heidi_ulrichsen

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