Annual blood drive in honour of beloved Islander encouraging new donors to give
'When he became the recipient of blood, he really recognized the importance of people giving'
Wendy Toy is encouraging Islanders to roll up their sleeves in honour of her late partner Ron St. Onge, who was a blood donor for about 20 years before he passed away from cancer in 2016.
Over the years, St. Onge became a regular donor, but nearing the end of his life his role shifted from donor to recipient.
"When he became the recipient of blood, he really recognized the importance of people giving," Toy said.
During chemotherapy, St. Onge became increasingly dependent on blood transfusions to give him energy.
It was during this time St. Onge requested, in lieu of monetary donations, that his family, friends and the community join together to participate in an annual event to donate blood for those who may be in need of it.
On Tuesday, friends, family and colleagues came together at the Canadian Blood Services clinic in Charlottetown to honour St. Onge and give back. It was the third annual event.
The clinic aims to have an event every month but is often only able to gather enough donors for an event once every three months, said Jacob Perry, the clinic's supervisor.
That seems to be a pretty low number to me, and it's a well-known fact that only four per cent of eligible Canadians come to donate — and that's what's sustaining our blood supply.— Jacob Perry
P.E.I. has about 2,700 donors who have given blood over the past year, Perry said, and the clinic sees about 128 donations a week.
"That seems to be a pretty low number to me, and it's a well-known fact that only four per cent of eligible Canadians come to donate — and that's what's sustaining our blood supply," he said.
Honouring a legacy
Events like the one honouring St. Onge are important, helping shine light on the legacy of a beloved community member, but also encouraging new blood donors to give, Perry said.
"It's a way to show appreciation and support for the many donors it takes to help these people in need. It can take up to five donors for a patient undergoing cancer treatment," Perry said.
Inspiring new donors
Nicole Cormier knew Ron through the mountain biking community on the Island, and last year's event was her first time giving blood.
In the past, Cormier had thought about donating but had always put it off. The event put on in honour of St. Onge is a good reminder to give, she said.
"It's painless, it doesn't take too long and it's a good way to do something for somebody else," she said.
St. Onge made sure blood donations were in his weekly and monthly schedules, said Toy.
"This feels like an opportunity to make him proud and to do something he would appreciate and he would feel is important," Toy said.
Seeing the different parts of his life come together in honour of him. "it's like a patchwork of his life," Toy said.