Natalia Bellefleur (left) and Julia Ashcroft welcome Carihi students to the information booth set up in the hall on Wednesdays and Thursdays this month in advance of Canadian Blood Services blood drive coming to town at the end of the month. Photo submitted

Campbell River high school students can make a difference by giving blood, too

Information booths at Carihi give students the information they need on this life-saving service

Braden Majic

Carihi Mirror

Carihi students 17 and older have the opportunity to make the valuable donation of giving blood later this month when the Canadian Blood Services (CBS) blood drive returns to town.

In support of that initiative, three sets of Wednesday and Thursday blood booths are being put on by graduation executive members to educate students on the value and the what’s what of donating.

“It’s a booth where we provide information and eligibility quizzes for students to see if they are eligible to donate,” Natalia Bellefleur says. “(We) are trying to inform them about the opportunities to help Canadians and Canadian Blood Services.”

Students have come up to the blood booths and participated in an online eligibility quiz and been able to understand what may or may not prevent them from donating and why.

The CBS blood drive is coming to Campbell River on Feb. 26, 27, and 28, as it does every 12 weeks.

“Demand is constant,” CBS Territory Manager Gayle Voyer says. “The community of Campbell River is great at supporting our donation events

Carihi has five spots on each day reserved for students who are interested in taking their time after school to donate.

“If we are able to get kids to be first time donors now and they enjoy their experience, hopefully they stay as long donors,” Bellefleur says. She just so happens to be a previous donor herself.

Bellefleur donated for the first time back in December 2018.

“I have a big phobia of needles,” she says, but many in her family have made the effort to donate regularly which inspired her to begin doing the same.

The nurses at the blood events work very well to keep donors calm and feel prepared to donate and possibly overcome a fear.

“I really liked the process that they had,” she says. “I am much more confident going into my next appointment knowing what I know already.”

Bellefleur has used her own experience to help ease people’s fears and try to encourage them to book an appointment.

According to Canadian Blood Services, half of all Canadians will either need blood or know of someone who is in need of a transfusion, so appointments made by Carihi staff and students will make a difference.

“I am surprised by the amount of people interested,” Bellefleur says. “I would have thought that there would have been a lot more people who were very, very skeptical about it, and it’s not that, it’s kids just don’t know that they can [donate].”

What some people might not know, is blood products have a varied shelf life depending on the type, handling and transportation with can greatly affect the inventory.

“We need more regular donors to maintain a strong national inventory of blood and blood products to meet patients’ needs,” Voyer says.

Another plus is that first time donors get to find out their blood type, which seems to be a big interest among high schoolers.

The community donation events happen downtown at the Campbell River Community Centre.

Those looking to book an appointment at the next blood drive can go online to blood.ca or call 1-888-2-DONATE to have any questions answered.

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