Today is the day to hit up the Knights of Columbus hall, roll up your sleeve, and give a pint of blood, and help save a life or two. (file photo)
The Knights of Columbus hall will be taken over by Hema Quebec workers today for The Eastern Door’s 16th annual Blood Donor Clinic.
The goal is to collect 100 pints of blood between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. to help Hema Quebec meet the needs of the hundreds of people throughout the province that require blood transfusions.
“There is an importance on a day-to-day basis because one of the things that is less known is that for some blood components, take for instance platelets, they have a lifespan of seven days between the period they are drawn and the period when we can transfuse them,” said Laurent-Paul Ménard, a spokesperson for the organization.
“So, there is a constant need for blood. We need to have blood on a daily basis and it is important in those circumstances to reach our goals for each and every blood clinic we hold throughout Quebec each and every day.”
One donation can save up to four lives, according to the provincial organization.
“It makes a difference at the end of the day. The donors that will give at Kahnawake will make a big difference for the blood supply throughout Quebec and for those in the community that may need blood,” aid Ménard.
He also said the organization is currently recruiting First Nations to get more information and to register for the province’s stem cell donor registry.
“We need more candidates from First Nations. This can make a whole difference for those who need a stem cell graph,” said Ménard.
“When we’re talking about stem cells, we have to take into account, your own ancestry. So basically if someone from Kahnawake needs a stem cell graph, they will need to have a match that shares the same genetic background.”
The eligible candidates must be between 18 and 35. While no representative from the registry will be on site today, Ménard said community members looking to learn more can visit Hema Quebec’s website.
Today marks the 16th year that The Eastern Door has taken on organizing the event.
“It is with a great amount of pride that we continue to do this important work, to raise awareness, to help Kahnawa’kehró:non who need it most,” said Eastern Door editor/publisher Steve Bonspiel.
“I encourage everyone who can donate, especially the first timers, to come on out and give the gift of life.”
The annual event is also made possible due to the many community volunteers and neighbours who donate their time.
“Giving blood saves lives, so anything you can do to help that process, I think is worthy,” said Chateauguay resident Wendy Hannah.
Today marks the second year in a row that she’s donated her time for the annual event. “It’s nice to see the good in people also. The world that we live in today, there’s so many horrible things going on. When you’re in a place where you see people giving with a smile, it’s a blessing.”
Those eligible to donate blood must be at least 18 years of age, in good health, and must not have received a tattoo or piercing in the last six months, among other eligibility criteria.
Ménard said donors can also expect to answer an extra eligibility question prior to donating this year.
“We have a new question regarding those who traveled outside of continental part of the USA, Canada and Europe,” he said. “They will be asked to wait 21 days before giving blood because of the Zika virus.”
In approximately 80 percent of cases, the infected person has no symptoms, however, the virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus, causing certain birth defects.
“It’s a safety measure that for those who will receive the blood components at the end of the whole procedure,” said Ménard.
“If a recipient receives blood and is pregnant, it could be a danger because this disease can be transmitted through blood transfusions.”
Hema Quebec said the measure concerns not only the risks associated with the Zika virus, but also other similar viruses such as Dengue fever and Chikungunya.