A’Burg residents honoured by Canadian Blood Services

By Jason Viau

Amherstburg residents have shown great support for the Canadian Blood Services in their community because they realize that each time they donate three lives can be saved.

Julie Rivington has been donating blood in Amherstburg every two months for nearly 30 years. She was honoured for her 75th blood donation milestone and says she donates simply because she can.

“It doesn’t take long, it’s something I can do and why not,” said Rivington.

The Canadian Blood Services held its 13th annual recognition ceremony May 3 at the Caboto Club honouring over 300 Windsor-Essex residents, 13 of whom are from Amherstburg, who have given bone marrow, stem cells or blood.

Nineteen-year-old cancer survivor Jon Brent was a guest speaker at the event. He was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of three and received

Thirteen Amherstburg residents were honoured at the 13th annual recognition ceremony held by the Canadian Blood Services May 3 at the Caboto Club. Left to right, Ted Rivington, Brian Barrett, Julia Rivington, Timothy Kelly and Linda Rowe were among those Amherstburg residents acknowledged.

chemotherapy and blood products until he relapsed three years later which required him to have a bone marrow transplant. Brent said perseverance and determination is what carried him through the tough times as a young child.

“I knew there would be a light at the end of the tunnel. Some days I was running towards the light and some days I was crawling towards the light,” said Brent.

He eventually received a bone marrow transplant in 1998 from his donor Melissa who was about 20 years old at the time.

“It feels absolutely wonderful. I can’t even put it into words … it means so much to me just to be given the gift of life,” said Brent.

He’s been cancer free for over 12 years and said he is grateful for all the love, support and prayers from his friends and family. Brent said it’s important to show gratitude to those who have helped him throughout the years and have created an “opportunistic” future for him because of the blood products.

“I’m here tonight because I’m giving back to the Canadian Blood Services. They’re a huge reason of why I’m here today. I wouldn’t be alive without the transfusions and the blood products …,” said Brent.

Rivington said she was moved to tears listening to Brent’s story about his struggles.

“That’s a pretty hard road to travel down and I’m sure there are a lot of people who are in need of these products. I’m very healthy and I have great veins … it’s easy for me to donate,” said Rivington.

Judy Compton, director of donor and clinic services for the Canadian Blood Services in southern Ontario, said the need for new donors is important to the success of the organization. They are looking to recruit 100,000 new donors nationally to offset the aging population. She said it’s imperative that young school-aged individuals realize the need for blood donation. Students can begin donating at the age of 17. Donating one pint of blood takes roughly one hour and can be done once every 56 days.

“We do have very strong donor support in this region … and as our donor base is aging it is really critical (that) we bring new donors into the system,” Compton said.

Compton said donations have declined this year largely because hospital demand has lessened, which is how the Canadian Blood Services creates donor projections. Despite the decline, she added, support in the area has been very strong, especially in rural communities like Amherstburg.

“We really need to ensure that we keep our community blood banks well stocked because blood has a shelf life of 42 days. It’s critical that we’re always replenishing the supply,” said Compton.

Approximately 900,000 units of blood are collected each year in Canada. On average every 60 seconds someone in Canada requires a blood product and a car accident victim, for example, may require blood from up to 50 donors.

“Everyone has the ability to donate blood … and for those who are worried about the needles and the pain – somebody who really needs your blood or your bone marrow goes through worse pain than hopefully you will ever have to imagine,” said Brent.

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