February 23, 2016 8:19 pm
Updated: February 23, 2016 9:03 pm

‘To pay it forward’: #GiveLife campaign encourages blood donors to share personal stories

WATCH ABOVE: Canadian Blood Services want people to share stories about why receiving or giving a blood donation is meaningful to them. Emily Mertz spoke to one donor with a very personal reason behind her donations.

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EDMONTON – Every appointment to donate blood is emotional for Robin Ross.

“I lost my dad two years ago to oesophageal cancer,” she said, her voice breaking. “But because somebody donated blood I got an extra 48 hours with him.”

Since his death, she’s donated every chance she gets.

“I’ve done six blood donations to pay it forward because those 48 hours were probably the best 48 hours I had in all of my life with him.”

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Personal stories resonate. That is why Canadian Blood Services wants to hear from donors and recipients about why they donate or what a donation meant to them. It launched a new campaign – the Give Life Challenge – to share those stories.

“The majority of people who actually come in and donate, they’ve known somebody who’s needed blood or blood products,” CSB spokesperson Judy Jones said.

“It’s really a motivator for them. They’ve seen the need.”

The goal is to have 20,000 Canadians sign up to donate blood before March 31. People are also encouraged to share their personal donation stories on the Give Life website or on social media using the hashtag #GiveLife.

“It’s a great opportunity to share stories,” Jones said. “You can put together a team, maybe your co-workers, maybe your family from across the country want to get together and pledge a certain amount, and maybe come in as a family to donate.”

For Ross, it took a health crisis close to home for her to realize how significant blood donation can be.

“It was kind of a wake up call for me – and I know that’s a lot of people’s situation in life – it takes a negative to happen before they realize how important it is,” she said.

“Maybe that was a blessing for me.”

She believes sharing those personal experiences is empowering – as is donating.

“You hear all these stories: ‘My child was saved – or my father, or mother, or anybody was saved – because you donated blood.’ That’s a pretty strong impact as far as I’m concerned. It impacted me enough to want to, every 56 days, come back and give more,” Ross said.

“If I can help one person even for an hour, that’s what I want to do.”

© 2016 Shaw Media

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