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Blood Vessel bus has its first launch in Summerside

blood vessel: Madalyne Campbell, Josh Brown, Rachel Reeves, Victoria Pettips, Matthew Brown and Monica Arsenault (left to right) at the Blood Vessel bus' first launch, heading for Charlottetown to donate their blood at the Canadian Blood Service centre. - Rachel Reeves/Special to the Journal Pioneer
Madalyne Campbell, Josh Brown, Rachel Reeves, Victoria Pettipas, Matthew Brown and Monica Arsenault at the Blood Vessel bus' first launch, heading for Charlottetown to donate their blood at the Canadian Blood Service centre. - Rachel Reeves/Special to the Journal Pioneer

Medical laboratory assistant Rachel Reeves has a passion like no other for her field of work.

Reeves has run her Summerside-based clinic, Reeves Laboratory Services, since mid-January. Now she's taken on another project, the Blood Vessel bus. 

“It’s something I thought of because of a lot of the clients that were coming through, I always joke with my patients, ‘you have great veins. You should go and donate’, and a bunch of them said they’d never even thought about it before,” said Reeves.

“I guess that’s what really struck me, it never crossed their minds to go donate [blood].”

The Blood Vessel Bus had its first launch in September but didn’t have the turnout Reeves was expecting. 

“I had a really great response with the public. But the day of, we had people dropping out."

Despite that, Reeves considered the Blood Vessel bus "a win" because there were people donating for the first time.

“I had three people there who had never donated before, so I consider that a success. Now they have a donor card."

A big part of the project’s launch was the limited resources available to Prince County, said Reeves.

A fun addition to the drive up to Charlottetown via the Blood Vessel bus is learning facts about blood like:

  • If one person donates blood, the product can save up to three lives.
  • Humans have four main blood groups: A, B, AB, and O. 
  • There is the amount of one cup of blood in a newborn baby. 
  • Mosquitoes typically prefer to O blood-types. “It had to deal with a person’s DNA and genetic makeup. Typically, O+ people create a little more sugar through their sweat glands.”      

“We don’t have a [blood-drive] clinic on this end of the Island, and it’s not really something people think about. It’s so out of the way and you have to travel down to Charlottetown since they don’t do the travelling clinics anymore. I contacted Canadian Blood Services, and this (the bus) was the most cost-effective thing to do.”

For Reeves, it was all about alerting people to the importance of donating blood.

“It can be really intimidating for those who don’t know anything about it. People know needles are scary, but the important thing is to know it’s such an important and good cause.”

Reeves plans on doing another launch sometime in January.  

She hopes to add a component to carry in more traffic for her project, said Reeves.

“One thing I’ve looked into is getting high school students involved. If they come and donate, they could fill out their volunteer hours for their bursaries. They’d be able to donate three times out of the school year. I’ve contacted the school, so hopefully, I’ll hear back and it’ll go through.”

Matthew Brown was one of the donors at the first launch, though it had been some time since his last donation. 

“It’s been many years since I last went. I think with many people, its easier to not [go] and we don’t think of doing it. But having something like the bus, it’s now in mind.”
Donating blood can be a fun experience in a group, said Brown.

“It's motivating for one another. And it’s was nice being able to drive up together, and chatting while they take the blood.

“Overall, I’m really motivated to get back into donating. I’m going to try every six months. It’s so important and we need people to do this. It’s natural to be scared of the needles and the pricking, but there are zero discomforts. It’s just a matter of giving some time to an important cause.”

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