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B.C. student inspires dozens of blood donations

More than 40 litres donated at Thomas Haney blood drive

More than 40 litres of blood is on its way to help people in need thanks to the many people who lined up to donate at the Thomas Haney Secondary blood drive on Tuesday.

Grade 12 student Addison Nickel was one of the main driving forces behind this event, working with her school and Canadian Blood Services staff to coordinate the special one-day blood drive.

After a condition called Junctional Ectopic Tachycardia – a rare heart condition with a high mortality rate when not treated properly – caused Nickel to undergo life-saving surgery as a baby, she had always been looking for ways to give back to her community.

So, she decided that hosting a blood drive would be a great way to do so.

After a lot of hard work from Canadian Blood Services, the blood drive saw a total of 95 donors, which included a mix of students, teachers, and community members, explained community development manager Craig Nielsen.

More than half of these donors had never given blood before, and the drive reached 98 per cent of its target goal, which Nielsen said was incredibly good for a first-time event like this.

"Typically, we see about 15 to 20 per cent first-time donors at our mobile clinics, therefore over 50 per cent is amazing," said Nielsen.

One of the many donors was Nickel herself, who said it was crazy to see just how much work went into running a blood drive event, and was grateful that she was able to be a part of it.

"When I got here, I wasn't sure if I could donate because of my heart condition," said Nickel. "The actual process was way easier than I thought it was because you just sign in, answer a few questions, and go back and they do a little finger prick. I thought it was going to be this hour-long thing."

"It's super cool to know that my blood is getting sent off to go somewhere. It's cool to think that it's going to save someone's life."

In addition to encouraging people to donate blood, Nickel also hoped that the Thomas Haney event would inspire others to host similar events in the future.

And it seems like it's already worked, with a couple of White Rock students currently trying to organize their own blood drive to host at Earl Marriott Secondary next year.

Karis Goodwin and Josie Abi-Ad visited the Maple Ridge blood drive on June 11 on a fact-finding mission as part of their school's work experience program.

"We're part of our school's co-op, which means that for six weeks out of the school year, we're at work experience," said Abi-Ad. Our teacher introduced us to this opportunity working alongside Canadian Blood Services to set up a blood drive for our school next year."

Their trip to Thomas Haney was one of several stops they are making to better understand what goes into a blood drive event. 

"When we got into this project, we knew virtually nothing," said Goodwin. "I definitely didn't know there was this much in the process. It's really amazing to learn about all of these donors and their personal experiences that lead them to go and give blood."

In addition to being a very well-received event, Nielsen said the Thomas Haney blood drive was also quite unique even among the other school events they do.

"We typically do not host blood donor clinics at schools during their regular programmed days," said Nielsen. 

However, by closely working with school staff, the blood drive was able to take up part of the gym space throughout the afternoon and into the evening.

"Canadian Blood Services and myself are so grateful for the support of the Thomas Haney students and staff, as well as the Maple Ridge community for making yesterday such a success."

Brandon Tucker

About the Author: Brandon Tucker

I have been a journalist since 2013, with much of my career spent covering sports and entertainment stories in Alberta.
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