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In times of crisis, Bradford residents step up for blood donation

After the April van attack in Toronto, the Canadian Blood Services "over-collected" in Bradford because so many residents donated.

It was a CN Rail co-worker’s injury that inspired Nancy Zajacz to first give blood.

“One of the fellows there had an injury,” and had to be rushed to hospital, she said.

The worker needed 47 blood transfusions during surgery. It cost him his leg, but saved his life. When he recovered, the man returned to the company in a wheelchair to organize a blood donor clinic — and Nancy donated blood.

“He was an inspiration to me. Until you realize what people have gone through, you have no idea,” she said.

Zajacz was one of many people who donated blood at a Canadian Blood Services clinic at Holy Martyrs of Japan Catholic Church in Bradford on May 16.

It was the 28th time Zajacz had donated blood since the workplace incident 15 years ago.

Every 60 seconds, someone in Canada will need blood — as a result of accident, surgery or cancer treatment, and chances are that someone you know will need a blood donation at some point in their life, according to Canadian Blood Services.

Jack Dickie started giving blood in high school.

He said can’t quite remember what inspired him to donate — “Probably to get out of a class!” — but he has continued to give blood ever since, and he made his 75th donation on Wednesday.

“If you can, it’s such a good cause. Why not?” Dickie asked.

Dennis Casey is a familiar face to the volunteers and staff at Bradford blood donor clinics. On Wednesday, he donated blood for the 108th time.

“Years ago, I had high iron in my blood,” Casey said. His doctor at the time recommended making regular blood donations because it would keep everything regulated. 

Casey just kept donating — initially three times a year, and now under Canadian Blood Service’s new regulations, every 54 days.

It takes only 10 to 15 minutes to donate 450 millilitres of whole blood — and just a few minutes more to recover, with cookies and juice.

“It doesn’t hurt,” he said. “I just look the other way.”

Not everyone can give — the screening process is designed to ensure safety for both the donor and recipient, and it excludes those who, for example, have had recent tattoos or piercings, are pregnant, have overly high or low blood pressure, and may have travelled to countries where certain infections are rampant.

But most would-be donors are welcomed, especially those with O-negative blood — “universal donors” whose blood is compatible with all other blood types, said Bradford clinic supervisor Marlene Davidson.

Wednesday’s clinic met its target of 72 units of blood.

It was a different story at an April clinic held at St. John’s Presbyterian Church in Bradford, just after the April 23 van attack in Toronto that left 10 dead.

At that clinic “we over-collected,” far exceeding the target as concerned residents stepped up to donate, said Davidson. “Staff worked hard and late… Bradford has been good to us.”

How to donate:

The next blood donor clinic in Bradford will take place June 26 at St. John’s Presbyterian Church, 2940 Sideroad 10.

Visit blood.ca or call 1-888-2-DONATE to book an appointment.


Miriam King

About the Author: Miriam King

Miriam King is a journalist and photographer with Bradford Today, covering news and events in Bradford West Gwillimbury and Innisfil.
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