When Syona was just four days old, a stranger saved her life.
I’ve written before about Syona’s health issues when she was born—and one of those issues was a dangerously low platelet count. Platelets are cells that circulate in the blood and help stop internal bleeding. In a worst case scenario, low platelets can cause fatal bleeding in the body.
Through the fog that filled those early days, I remember a doctor explaining that Syona needed a full platelet transfusion. There wasn’t enough time for Dilip or I to become donors (the process of collecting platelets from a blood donor takes time), so we had to rely on the Canadian Blood Services to save our four-day-old girl. It was a life-saving transfusion, so Dilip and I quickly agreed.
Thinking back to that day is hard. I’d never been more scared—or more grateful—in my entire life. Some anonymous donor took the time to donate their blood. But the scariest moment came just a few days ago when I read a Globe and Mail article about the Canadian blood supply being at a dangerous low. Blood donation touched our lives again not so long ago. A good friend was diagnosed with a rare condition. Her recovery was hard, long, required multiple procedures, dialysis and—by her count—more than 3,000 donors to save her life.
Being told that our daughter needed a transfusion to live was hard. But you know what would have been even harder? Being told that our daughter, or anyone else we cared about, needed a blood transfusion to survive but there was no blood available.
Since the tainted blood scandal in the 1980s, Canada’s blood supply is exceptionally safe. The system has a number of checks and balances that test the blood and disqualifies donors based on certain factors. I’ve never been able to donate blood because I have low iron. There isn’t much I long for in life, but I do wish I could donate blood. I know it takes time and involves a needle, but that seems like a very small sacrifice to make given the fact that we can save a life. We’re fortunate to live in a country that is stable, safe and offers a number of public supports. And when those supports require us to step up to help, I’d like to believe that we would.
At the time of their blood donation, our anonymous blood donor had no idea that they would help save my daughter’s life. But that’s exactly what they did. And it's a gift that we’re reminded of daily—with every one of Syona’s smiles.
To learn more about blood donation, or to find out how you can donate, please visit the Canadian Blood Services website.
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