Nfld. & Labrador

Sarah Turpin's final wish: family, friends donate blood

On Thursday, 149 people attended a clinic at Canadian Blood Services in St. John's, to honour the last request of Sarah Turpin, who died on Oct. 3.
Sarah Turpin, 32, died on Oct. 3. She's pictured here with her three children. (Submitted photo)

If you look at Sarah Turpin's photos on Facebook, you'll see a very happy young woman, someone looking like they have a real zest for life.

In her arms, or alongside her in a plastic wading pool, you might see Turpin and her daughter Rowan, with twin sons Grant and Ellis.

'All things considered, he has three beautiful babies. So you know, she'd be very proud of him right now.' - Maggie Sullivan, friend of Sarah Turpin 

Turpin's children were all under the age of three when she died on Oct. 3, at the age of 32. 

Maggie Sullivan, who was best friends with Turpin since grade nine, fondly remembers her friend. 

"She had three beautiful babies that were her world. She used to refer to Rowan as her heart, and Grant and Ellis her twin boys as her lung, " said Sullivan. 

Dana Noseworthy attended Thursday's clinic, and although she didn't know Sarah Turpin, she wanted to show her support. (Todd O'Brien/CBC)
So it was a shock that within a week of feeling ill, Turpin was dead.

On a Friday in late September, she was throwing up blood and was admitted to Carbonear General Hospital. 

Turpin was there for observation over the weekend, had several blood transfusions and seemed to be doing fine — but by Tuesday she was in ICU. On Wednesday, Turpin was sent to St. John's for chemotherapy treatment. She died two days later. 

Always up for an adventure

Sullivan said her friend loved the outdoors, camping and hiking, and can't "imagine a world where there is no Sarah Turpin."

"I don't think there are any words to describe her, or words to do her justice. If anyone met Sarah, they would consider her probably one of the most memorable people. She had the best sense of humour and she could find humour in any situation. She was witty, she was so funny."

'She had three beautiful babies that were her world. She used to refer to Rowan as her heart, and Grant and Ellis her twin boys as her lung.' - Maggie Sullivan, remembering her friend Sarah Turpin

Turpin lived in Bay Roberts with her husband Peter and their children.

She taught at Carbonear Academy and was well liked.

During her week in hospital, she required many blood transfusions — in fact, her final Facebook post urged people to donate blood.

On Thursday CrossFit 709, a St. John's-based gym, organized a blood donor clinic at Canadian Blood Services.

At the event, donors were greeted with a picture of Turpin, and a photo of her children.

Donors were encouraged to sign their names around the margins of the mounted photo, which was then presented to the family.

149 friends, family and strangers donated

Thursday's clinic was well-attended — with 149 people donating blood. 

Dana Noseworthy, who didn't know Turpin, came out to lend her support.

"I didn't know her personally, but I know people who did know her. I'm 32, I'm also a mother. So I guess in that sense, I certainly feel similar to Sarah ... so I just wanted to come out and donate in her memory," Noseworthy said.

On Thursday, a special donor clinic was held to remember Sarah Turpin, whose final wish was for people to donate blood. (Todd O'Brien/CBC)
Sullivan said Turpin is going to be missed. 

"I am coping ... probably the best word to use. I don't think it's hit me yet. I speak for the family, this is unimaginable right now. It's the worst thing that could happen."

Sullivan told CBC that Turpin's husband, Peter, is "trying his best."

"All things considered, he has three beautiful babies. So you know, she'd be very proud of him right now."

Future blood clinics will be held in Bay Roberts and Carbonear next month.

About the Author

Todd O'Brien

CBC News

Todd O'Brien is a journalist working with CBC's bureau in St. John's.