Lethbridge woman impacted by blood donations encouraging people to give before Labour Day

By Aaron Mahoney (@Mahones93 on Twitter)
August 20, 2018 - 10:30am

LETHBRIDGE – With many blood donors away or busy with summer activities, Labour Day weekend will be a particularly challenging time for Canadian Blood Services to collect blood.

The agency announced that more than 22,000 donors are urgently needed across Canada by Aug. 26.

In a release, Canadian Blood Services state that donations now will help ensure the national blood inventory can meet patient needs for the rest of summer.

Canadian Blood Services’ chief supply chain officer and vice-president of donor relations, Rick Prinzen, says while Canadians enjoy summer pastimes leading up to and during the last long weekend of the season, we’re urging them to add blood donation to their plans.

“Giving blood is a lifesaving habit that will make a real difference in a stranger’s life,” Prinzen continued. “New donors are fundamental to meeting Canada’s blood needs over the longer term, and if every donor brings a friend to donate, or encourages others to give life, they can have a tremendous impact on the supply system.”

All donors are urged to get involved, particularly donors with Type O blood.

O-negative blood is always in demand by hospitals because it’s the only type compatible with all other blood types.

Natalie Stronks has personal knowledge of the need for blood and blood products.

In November of 2017, doctors found a large mass which was thought to be cancer in the Lethbridge native.

During treatment and follow up surgeries, Stronks received blood and blood products which she credits for saving her life.

“I think in its simplest form blood does save lives. I think some people have misconceptions about what it’s used for, I know in my experience I have three kids under six and an awesome family so if there hadn’t have been blood available to me I would’ve died in February,” Stronks said.

She lost over seven units of blood due to complications in surgery and says it’s not just a one-time thing because you never know when someone is going to need blood.

“For me, it wasn’t a planned surgery that was supposed to go wrong if people hadn’t given blood on a continual basis I definitely wouldn’t have made it.”

So, what would Stronks say to someone who is thinking about giving blood, but they’re a bit apprehensive?

“I would say it might hurt a little bit, I don’t like needles either or hospitals, but the person that’s going to need the blood is probably going through a lot more than that minor inconvenience,” she continued. “So, if you can put yourself in their shoes, giving blood could be the difference between saving a mom or a wife.”

Stronks mentioned how if it wasn’t for the people who donated blood, her husband would’ve had to raise their kids on his own, and her daughter would’ve had to get married one day without her mom there.

“If you think about the people that are going to need the blood instead of just your blood going into a bag and being stored away that’ll make it an easier decision to give I think,” Stronks stated.

Stronks hasn’t been able to give blood herself yet, as the blood she received back in February takes three months to fully circulate completely through the body before it begins to function properly again but added her husband gives blood on a regular basis and did even before she had surgery.

As the summer winds down, and September approaches, Canadians around the country are returning to regular routines.

Many families will be getting ready for back-to-school time and while most kids prepare for class, some will be focused on overcoming an unexpected health condition.

With examples like that, Stronks says she wanted to thank the donors who helped save her.

“I don’t know whose blood I received but I just want to express how grateful I am for it. I’ve become a bit of a softie now, I participated in the Ladiesfest run as soon as I could after surgery and I wept while I was running because I was alive to do that.”

Stronks has a one-year-old, a five-year-old and a six-year-old and while there are days where they don’t get along, she says she's so happy to be there to see them not get along.

“I want to help them grow into giving people so that hopefully one day when they’re old enough they’ll give blood too,” Stronks said, adding there’s a lot to be grateful for now.

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