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Photo courtesy of Josh Martin

Photo courtesy of Josh Martin

Josh Martin was diagnosed with leukemia in 2008, and after a bone marrow transplant required daily blood transfusions for two weeks. Each minute of each day, a Canadian is in need of a blood donation.

Blood ties

After recovery, young recipients highlight need for steady blood supply and young donors

By Meredith Taylor
Special to the Post

No one would expect to spend Easter Sunday in the hospital fighting for their life, but for Kitchener resident Krista-Leigh Shiell, 27, that unfortunately became a reality seven years ago.

Shiell was hit by a friend’s unoccupied truck and pinned to a garage.

She was rushed to hospital with a bruised and swollen liver. She had multiple surgeries and received 48 units of blood in total.

Waterloo resident Josh Martin, 32, was diagnosed with leukemia in early 2008, and started chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

He was given a bone marrow transplant in late 2008, and required daily blood transfusions for two weeks until his new stem cells  began producing blood.

He faced a one-year recovery, but now, four years later, Martin is still cancer free.

For both Shiell and Martin their recoveries wouldn’t have been possible without blood donations.

According to Canadian Blood Services, approximately every minute of every day Canadians just like Shiell and Martin will need a blood donation.

Coincidentally, Martin donated blood before he ended up needing transfusions.

“I was a regular blood donor before I was diagnosed. My whole family has been as well and they continue to be, especially after what I’ve gone through. . . Because you never know when it might be somebody that you know that’s in that position,” Martin said.

“I’m an example of the difference [a blood donation] can make.

“Think about the people that you know, and how you would feel if one of them was to need a blood transfusion and you’d want the community to be there . . . and then the other encouragement is free cookies,” he said.

“I understand a lot of people don’t like needles,” Shiell said.

“[They’re] worried that they might have a bruise or it’s going to hurt. But I can tell you, getting hit by a truck hurts a lot more.”

Heather Fowler, community development co-ordinator at the Waterloo Region branch of  Canadian Blood Services, says they are seeking new blood donors and are encouraging young people to make blood donation a part of their lifestyle.

Canadian Blood Services is also the umbrella agency for plasma and platelet donation, the One Match stem cell and marrow network, and has some responsibilities in the area of organ and tissue donation and transplantation.

A blood donor clinic is being held at the Calvin Presbyterian Church at 248 Westmount Rd. E. in Kitchener on Feb. 11 from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Donors must be at least 17 years old.

For more information, call 519-884-5646 or go to www.blood.ca.

Meredith Taylor attends the
Conestoga College journalism program
and is an intern with the Kitchener Post.

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