Summer blood supply is helped by program Sirens for Life

The Sirens for Life blood donor challenge has shifted into high gear as a friendly competition with the life-sav­ing goal heats up for the final month of the campaign.

The annual summer blood drive challenges emergency medical services, police, fire personnel, and supporters to donate the most blood each year. Sirens for Life began in July  and runs to Aug. 31 at all blood donor clinics throughout central Ontario. The goal this year is 2,000 units of blood.

“We need 90,000 new blood donors this year, but it can be difficult during the summer when trauma may increase with more travel and boating, and donations can decrease with many donors on vacation,” said Marg Gow, community devel­op­ment coordinator of the Canadian Blood Services.

One family’s story

Jason and Charissa Beau­mont have four children, including baby Jacob. Their family and Emergency Medical Services’ personnel who ans­wered their 9-1-1 call one night a few months ago know life can change in an instant. Eight months ago, they were awaiting the delivery of Jacob. Charissa had needed two units of blood with their first child, but this pregnancy proceeded normally until delivery. Jacob turned sideways and an emergency Caesarean section had to be preformed. Jacob was  healthy, but Charissa suffered an obste­trical emergency and haem­orrhaged profusely need­ing four units of blood to live.

The parents returned home after days of recovery, but four nights later she awoke to an­other severe haemorrhage. After frantically calling 9-1-1,

Looking back, he marvels at the calmness of the emergen­cy services’ that night. Later he realized that although they obvi­ously knew how critical the situation was, their im­me­diate professionalism was one of the factors that helped save his wife’s life.

Charissa recalls the ride to the hospital and her suddenly in­tensified bleeding after ar­rival. She remembers hearing blood dripping on the floor as her nurse called for back-up, and quickly coming to the understanding that she could die.

“I just remember everyone working so hard and hearing them say, ‘my blood pressure was dropping and that my veins were collapsing,’” she said. “They were amazed I didn’t lose consciousness, but I had to stay awake. I needed to keep tell­ing them ‘You have to save my life, I have four young children.’”

After a pause, she added, “And they did.”

She needed four more units of blood and emergency sur­gery to bring her bleeding under control that night.

“I had been a blood donor since I first donated at my high school blood donor clinic when I was 18 but even as a donor the idea of giving blood was more like it was a ‘good thing to do,’ never thinking of it in life and death terms”, said Jason. “After Charissa’s haemorrhages, it hit home that blood donors saved my wife’s life. This has made us look at life differently; how short it can be and how valu­able blood donors are. We are hoping people will be inspired by our story to make a blood donation this summer during Sirens for Life.”

Charissa adds her encour­age­ment, asking everyone to support emergency services and patients by donating during Sirens for Life this month.

“If it wasn’t for blood donors, I wouldn’t be here to be a mother for my children. Thank-you for helping save my life.”

To book an appointment or for eligibility information call 1-888-236-6283. Note there is a change to the venue for the coming Mount Forest clinic. It will be at the Sports complex, 850 Princess Street, on Aug. 5, from 2 to 8pm.