By: Hillary Robert

It’s in you to give. The popular motto for Canadian Blood Services is ringing through the airwaves as they launch the annual fall campaign, just in time to fill appointment bookings at Algonquin before the accident between a Via Rail train and OC Transpo bus Sept 18.

Within the first few weeks of the new school year Canadian Blood Services launched its yearly campaign aimed at university and college students. Young post-secondary students have a lot to offer.

Blood donation clinics are hosted at Algonquin frequently throughout each school year. The first event held Sept 19 was a huge success. Students of Algonquin College had booked 107 per cent of appointments by 12:30 p.m.

Blood clinics hosted by the college have been very successful in the past, but a soar in appointments after the tragic accident lead to the clinic staying open a half hour longer than scheduled.

“We had a big call for O-negative blood yesterday to go out to the hospitals for the accident victims that had come through,” said Jessica Stergiou, coordinator with Canadian Blood Services. “When an accident happens it’s the blood that is already on the shelves of the hospitals from coast to coast. So blood from regular committed donors that first goes to treat those wounded an injured, and we need to replenish.”

Canadian Blood Services issued a statement following the accident offering condolences to the families affected by the crash and reiterating the importance of donors.

“Accident victims need up to 50 blood units,” said Stergiou. “When someone comes in after an accident they don’t have time to test their blood because they need blood now, so they give them that O-negative blood that is donated by those committed donors across the country.”

Seven per cent of Canadians are universal donors. O-negative blood types are critical for emergency victims. When patients come in requiring immediate transfusion, before testing, the blood they receive is O-negative.

Karoline Schmitt, a resident of Glen Park, makes regular donations at Algonquin’s clinics. Schmitt recently lost her sister to Leukemia. Leukemia patients can require up to eight units of blood per week.

“I never thought about donating,” she said. “After my sister started treatments, I started donating.”

Leukemia is an abnormal increase of immature white blood cells that affects the blood and the bone marrow.

“At first we didn’t know what was wrong, she was just tired all the time. She went to the doctors and were told she was anemic,” Schmitt said of her sister. “Three years later, she’s gone.”

The process is simple. After a questionnaire, any further testing is done on 30 ml of blood from the unit collected at donation.

“When you come in to donate blood the whole process takes about an hour. The needle isn’t in for very long though it is all the preparation and answering questions that takes the longest,” said Stergiou.“When we do take the blood it is about 480 ml that is taken, so a little less than what you’d see in a water bottle.”

Accidents such as that of Sept 18 raise awareness as to the importance of blood donors.

“It really brought Ottawa together as a community,” said Stergiou. “The call centre has been receiving so many calls about appointment bookings since the accident.”