An overwhelming number of Syrian newcomers arrived at the Canadian Blood Services clinic in Eau Claire on Monday to donate blood in a time of need.
Walid Alfalah came to Canada as a refugee and wanted to help the country that he believes saved his own life.
“When I came, all the people in Canada helped me,” Alfalah said. “Now, I help all the Canadians because everybody helped me.”
Alfalah and more than 50 other newcomers were asked to step up on New Year’s Day.
The opportunity to give blood holds a special meaning after escaping bloodshed in their home country.
“Donating blood in the Syrian culture is considered very symbolic and is the highest forms of loyalty to the country,” Sam Nammoura with the Syrian refugee support group said.
“This is how they feel,” Nammoura explained. “When the whole world turned their backs on them, Canada stood out among the crowds.”
Four-hundred-fifty appointments still need to be filled at the Canadian Blood Services clinic in Eau Claire by Jan. 6.
The group of newcomers has helped fill more than 80 spots on what’s normally a slow time for blood donation.
“A lot of appointments are unfilled, there are a lot of missed appointments,” said Jhoanna Del Rosario with Canadian Blood Services.
“People are very busy. The need for blood doesn’t stop, but hospital patients don’t take a holiday.”
All blood types are needed, especially O-negative blood, which is compatible with everyone.