Six years ago Troy Mathieu was diagnosed with lymphoma, a type of cancer that attacks the immune system.
He was bound to a hospital bed for six weeks and needed blood transfusions twice a day to replenish his frequent loss of blood cells. Thankfully, he was able to receive the blood he required and won his battle with cancer.
Troy has been cancer-free since.
“If it weren’t for the generosity of strangers, he wouldn’t be here with us today,” said Jennifer Mathieu, his wife and Territory Manager at Canadian Blood Services (CBS), Oshawa.
Jennifer started working at CBS two years ago because of the impact the organization had on her and the role it played in her husband’s life.
“When this job opportunity came about, I knew that this is my opportunity to really give back because it’s so important to educate people and let them know about how critical it is,” she said.
“This job allows me to thank blood donors everyday for their selfless act of helping strangers spend more time with their loved ones.”
CBS regulates and supplies blood across Canada. It ensures that not only is blood available when patients need it, but also that the blood they’re receiving is safe.
According to Jennifer, every 60 seconds someone in Canada receives a blood transfusion. CBS needs 112,000 new blood donors every year in order to manage the blood supply.
“We’re always in need of blood,” she said. “If people didn’t roll up their sleeves, we wouldn’t have the blood available.”
CBS partnered with Canada Life to sponsor a program called NextGen Lifeline in order to engage youth in campuses across Canada to help raise awareness about the importance of donating blood.
On Tuesday, Feb. 4, they will be hosting a nationwide blood typing event called ‘One Thousand Pokes’. The event allows young people to find out their blood type, and in turn, learn more about blood donation.
“We’ll be doing little finger pricks and testing your blood type right on the spot and in less than five minutes, we can tell you what your blood type is,” Jennifer said.
“For the blood typing event, we’re looking to have one day in Canada where we can get the most people blood typed,” she said. “We’re looking to kind of break a record and we’re also looking to help fill that clinic.”
On Monday, Feb. 24, CBS will be following up the blood typing event with a blood donation clinic in the Ontario Tech and Durham College campus gym.
According to Jennifer, CBS has a goal to collect 60 units of blood, which is approximately 120 donors booking appointments that day.
“It’s really important that every time we come to the campus, we get as many donors as possible because this is feeding directly into local hospitals.”
CBS has also helped Ontario Tech start up a Blood Services club which aims to not only recruit students to donate but also raise awareness around the campus.
Robyne Stevenson, vice-president of the Ontario Tech Blood Services club, says it has had a huge impact on donors and receivers.
Stevenson says a lot of students have thought about donating before, but are unfamiliar with the process. The club helps them answer questions or share their experiences about donating and encourages others to do the same.
“A lot of time, that involves reassuring them that it’s not as scary as they might think. I’m a nursing student, and I’ve been able to see first-hand how big of an impact our donors have on the lives of others in the community…and it’s been extremely rewarding,” Stevenson said.
The Feb. 4 blood typing event takes place 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the UA Atrium. The blood donation clinic on Feb. 24 will be held 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the campus gym.