Wrapping up the gift of life

Jim Day
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Canadian Blood Service launches special holiday season campaign

Rachelle Kelly, a blood recipient, is filled with praise for blood donors like Ray Hann. The pair were on hand Friday to help the Canadian Blood Service launch a special holiday season campaign.

Rachelle Kelly never expected any payback when she donated blood.

Rolling up her sleeve a handful of times in the past to help others was just something she wanted to do.

“Then life got busy and I kind of stopped,’’ said Kelly, 37, of Charlottetown.

Now, after being on the receiving end of donated blood and a whole lot at that, Kelly is set to become a regular donor. A new lease on life can have that effect on some people.

Kelly needed plenty of blood when complications from a planned caesarean section last January caused massive hemorrhaging. She required four surgeries over a 24-hour period and received close to 100 units of blood.

Kelly was overwhelmed by the thought of just how much donated blood was needed to keep her alive. She actually felt guilty.

The mother of two found herself thinking: “Wow, I’ve got to give that blood back.’’

Kelly needs to wait one year from the time she received the massive blood transfusion before she can donate blood. She plans to wait no longer than that. She has already booked an appointment on Jan. 28, 2013, to begin what she assures will be a regular practice of donating blood.

Kelly didn’t want to wait until then, however, to help the cause.

So she agreed to tell her story Thursday to help the Canadian Blood Service launch a special social media campaign for the upcoming holiday season.

Visitors to blood donor clinics across Atlantic Canada will now be able to ‘Dedicate a Holiday Miracle’ to someone special in their lives. With a traditional holiday card, as well as a Facebook holiday message, donors can honour someone on their holiday list with a unique gift.

Kelly notes the gift has more than one recipient: there is the person who receives the special dedication of a holiday miracle as a Christmas gift and there is also the person who receives the blood.

“I mean it’s one of the best gifts we can give,’’ she said. “How often can you give the gift of life?’’

Ray Hann has been

giving that precious gift time and again.

He took part in Thursday’s launch while also making a plasma donation during his stop. The donation marked his 200th of either blood or plasma.

Hann, not surprisingly, loves the special holiday campaign.

“I think it’s a great way of making people aware of the benefits of giving plasma and blood,’’ he said.

“The gift of life is very meaningful.’’

Canadian Blood Service spokeswoman Michelle Thibodeau says people are very busy over the holiday season so donating blood may not tend to be top of mind. She hopes this campaign will offer some added incentive to draw in donors by offering this special Christmas gift option.

“What you can do is cross off that hard-to-buy-for-person on your list,’’ she said.

Thibodeau adds the campaign also gives some deserved recognition to donors.

Canadian Blood Service urges people in Atlantic Canada to help by visiting a local blood donor clinic then dedicating a Holiday Miracle to someone special.

Visit www.blood.ca or call 1-888-236-6283 to make an appointment.

Organizations: Canadian Blood Service

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada

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