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Grandmother, blood donor urges others to give
Irene Bisson first became a blood donor during her days as an operating room technician at St. Boniface Hospital.
Bisson’s first-hand experience with how blood saves lives prompted her to get everyone in her extended family involved in giving blood too.
The thought that one day she might need blood herself never crossed her mind — until that day arrived. "I never expected that I would have to receive blood myself," she says.
The long-time St. Boniface resident was undergoing chemotherapy treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer that attacks the lymph nodes, when her hemoglobin and white blood cell counts fell dangerously low.
"I thought I was going to die," Bisson says. "Then I was given three units of blood. Without those three blood donors I would not have survived."
After receiving blood, Bisson’s health took an upward swing. Over the next four years, she went into remission and the grandmother of two welcomed another new granddaughter and her first grandson into the world.
Bisson also began helping out in the canteen at blood donor clinics hosted by St. Boniface Hospital and other local organizations. In 2011, she was recognized by Canadian Blood Services for 10 years of volunteer service.
"When donors came in to give, I’d tell my story. While I’ll never know which donors’ blood I actually got, it gave me great personal satisfaction to be there in person to hand donors a cup of coffee and just say thank you," Bisson says.
Unfortunately, Bisson’s health battle continues. In the past 12 years, she has relapsed three times and continues to receive cancer treatments.
"Blood donation is really about giving a patient time — time to spend with loved ones and time to fight in hopes of getting better," says Jennefer Stewart-Larsen, community development co-ordinator with Canadian Blood Services.
Stewart-Larsen adds that in order to keep up with the needs of patients in Manitoba, more than 4,000 new blood donors will be required just this year alone.
St. Boniface Hospital will host a blood donor clinic from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Fri., June 1 in the auditorium. Organizers say there are plenty of spots still available, and urge anyone wishing to book an appointment to visit www.blood.ca or call 1 888 2 DONATE (1 888 236 6283).
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