British Columbia

Blood donation at heart of B.C. mom's plea after childbirth transfusion

The mother of a month-old baby girl is encouraging British Columbians to donate blood after complications during childbirth required her to get a transfusion.

Christine Kwan required 2 units of blood following complications giving birth to baby Rachel

Christine Kwan needed a blood transfusion after giving birth to baby Rachel on May 1.

The mother of a month-old baby girl is encouraging British Columbians to donate blood, after complications during childbirth required her to get a transfusion.

Christine Kwan, who gave birth to Rachel on May 1, shared her story at a Vancouver blood clinic on Monday to mark the beginning of National Blood Donor Week.

Baby Rachel, pictured above, was born on May 1 to blood recipient Christine Kwan. (CBC)

"Due to some complications that are actually fairly common, I ended up requiring a blood transfusion which, along with a latte, picked me up very quickly and by the end of that day I was able to return to fairly normal activities," said Kwan.

This week's drive comes only weeks after Canadian Blood Services shut down its clinic in Prince George, B.C., as part of sweeping closures and changes to services across Canada.

Kwan says she used to donate blood quite regularly, but then life got busy raising three kids.

"It's easy for that to happen, and I'm sure there's a lot of people who drive past this clinic every single day who realistically could come in here and donate."

Kwan said she's grateful to the 460,000 Canadians who donate every year, and hopes more people roll up their sleeves and give.

"You can wake up one morning feeling very normal, and by the end of the day you might need a transfusion."

In search of 500,000 new donors

According to the Canadian Blood Services, there has been a "critical shortage" of blood supplies across the country in recent months and summer is the most difficult time of the year to recruit donors.

"In British Columbia this summer, from June through Labour Day, we have about 50,000 appointments we're trying to fill. That really sounds like a lot, and it certainly is," said David Patterson, director of donor relations in B.C. and Yukon.

"The summer's more challenging for us because people get out of their regular routines They go on vacation, they take time off with friends and family ... and so we're heading into that period where we could really use the help in our clinics."

Patterson says the other challenge is the service loses about 40 per cent of its donor base every year because people "age out" or move away. 

Therefore, it is trying to recruit 500,000 new donors over the next three years in order to keep up with demand.

An estimated one out of every two Canadians will require, or will know someone who requires, a blood transfusion in their lifetime.

Map of B.C. Blood Clinics

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