22 donors gave blood in honour of little Rielynn Gormley on June 28 in Chilliwack. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)

22 donors gave blood in honour of little Rielynn Gormley on June 28 in Chilliwack. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)

Agassiz family ‘overjoyed’ at support for 1-year-old with rare blood condition

Blood drive in honour of Rielynn Gormley sees 22 donors

Despite the blistering heat wave, support for Rielynn Gormley and her family came pouring in.

Richelle Gormley said there was a grand total of 22 blood donations made in Chilliwack during a drive in honour of Rielynn’s first birthday. Some of their family friends donated blood on another day because of scheduling conflicts.

“People also just wanted to join (Rielynn’s) team because they donate regularly and wanted their donations to go to her team’s pledges,” Richelle told The Observer. “I’m overjoyed with all the support we had.”

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Rielynn lives with a rare blood condition called type 3 von Willebrand disease, a lifelong, chronic blood disorder that makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. This disorder affects one in 500,000 people. Donated blood would provide Rielynn with the von Willebrand factor, a protein made from plasma of donated blood that would help her stop bleeding on her own in the event of a serious injury. Since Rielynn’s diagnosis, the family has promised to hold a blood drive every year on her birthday.

Richelle said because of the generosity of the new team members, Rielynn’s team has already made the team’s pledges for the year. She added there were several first time donors as well.

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According to Canada Blood Services territory manager Nancy Byran, donors were generous during the more restrictive parts of the pandemic. As things open up, it’s Bryan’s hope that as Canadians enjoy the summer and restrictions lift once again that they remember to keep their appointments to donate blood.

“We encourage Canadians to step up and donate, and if they do have an appointment that they would keep it or cancel in advance,” Bryan said. “We have been noticing a number of no-shows at recent events, and it is really important that if someone has booked an appointment and they can’t keep it to let us know as soon as they can.”

Bryan said blood lasts 42 days on the shelf and the supply needs to be replenished day by day.

Those interested in donating blood can take an eligibility quiz on Canadian Blood Service’s website, blood.ca. In the event of being ineligible to donate blood, there are other ways to help such as organizing blood drives and spreading awareness.

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