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December 6, 2005
Generosity of donors provides ‘Hope’ to family -- Toronto Fire Services, EMS and recipient/donor family help launch holiday blood drive
For Richard and Ina Lewis the generosity of donors is something they are truly grateful for every day of their lives. For Captain Dave Sheen and staff at Toronto Fire Services, the need for blood and blood products is clear virtually every day in their jobs. Together the Lewis family and Toronto Fire Services are helping Canadian Blood Services in Central Ontario launch the ‘Brighten a Life’ holiday blood donor campaign that runs from December 6 to January 13. The ‘Brighten a Life’ holiday campaign is encouraging residents of Greater Toronto to celebrate family and friends by donating blood in their honour. Donors will receive a special ‘In Honour’ card acknowledging their donation to give to someone special.

Recipient Story

When Richard Lewis met his wife Ina, blood donation was already an important part of his life, “My dad became very sick with cancer and I wasn’t even aware that he even needed blood until he phoned me one day and said, ‘Thanks for what you’ve done.’ He knew how important donating blood was.”

Ina, following Richard’s lead started donating blood in-between raising a family of daughters: Lindsay 12, Mara 9, Emily 5, Hope 2, and Abigail 1; but it was with the birth of their daughter Hope that the need for regular blood donors became ‘painfully’ clear. Only a day and a half old, Hope was rushed to Sick Kids hospital in Toronto and diagnosed with Ileum Atresia - an intestinal defect eliminating the hollow of the smallest part of the small intestine. This failure for the organ to open caused acute complications.

“Without the opening, Hope wasn’t eating and becoming severely dehydrated. They had to operate immediately,” explained Ina.

Shortly after Hope’s initial surgery she was rushed back to Sick Kids hospital with complications. “The opening was the size of a pinhead. I knew she was going to die unless they operated again.” After three months of observation Hope was finally allowed to return home.

In an effort to ‘give-back’ the blood and blood products used during the early stages of Hope’s life, Richard continues to donate regularly so other patients have the opportunity to continue their lives.
“When I saw it going into her veins that’s when it all hit home. My wife and I were so grateful other donors found time to save our daughter’s life.”

Enjoying a clutch of healthy girls around them Richard and Ina express their feelings about the importance of donating blood over the holidays and into next year. “Blood donors gave our ‘Hope’ back to us. People need to donate regularly so other families can have ‘hope’ as well.

Our Valued Community Partner

The Toronto Fire Services and EMS blood donor clinic at 4330 Dufferin St. has been a community leader in providing life-saving blood for local patients since 2003. Helping Toronto residents in times of crisis or trauma is what these ‘everyday heroes’ do daily and donating blood regularly just seems like a ‘perfect fit.’

“Working in trauma situations you see first hand the need for blood and blood products (platelets),” said Fire Services Captain, David Sheen. “We are more than happy to do our part in making sure blood is always available especially this time of year.”

Difficult Time of Year

This time of year can be a difficult time to collect blood with many people busy getting ready for the holidays. As a result, the holiday season represents a challenge for the blood system. Hospitals continue to draw on the supply of blood and blood products, while donors, preoccupied with holiday activities, do not continue to replenish the supply.

“The holiday season is a perfect time to share one's health and vitality with those in need,” says Renee Naiman, Regional Director, Canadian Blood Services, Central Ontario. “It is a meaningful gift that allows Canadians to acknowledge their friends and family and help others in need. There is no cost and the benefits are immeasurable.”

This year, Canadian Blood Services in Central Ontario estimates it will need to collect over 17,400 red blood cells and platelet donations locally between December 6 and January 13 to help meet hospital needs. Canadians interested in donating are encouraged to contact Canadian Blood Services at
1-888-2-DONATE (1-888-236-6283) for blood donor clinic information, eligibility information or to book an appointment.

About Canadian Blood Services

Canadian Blood Services is a national, not-for-profit charitable organization that manages the blood supply in all provinces and territories outside of Quebec and oversees the country’s Unrelated Bone Marrow Donor Registry. Canadian Blood Services operates 41 permanent collection sites and more than 19,000 donor clinics annually. The Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Health provide operational funding to Canadian Blood Services. The federal government, through Health Canada, is responsible for regulating the blood system. For more information, please visit our Web site at

Media contacts:

John Bromley
Regional Manager
Canadian Blood Services
Central Ontario Region
(office) 416-313-4438
(cell) 416-573-2172

David Sheen
Toronto Fire Services PIO
(office) 416-338-9317
(cell) 416-578-4316
(pager) 416-468-9978

Larry Roberts
Toronto EMS
(office) 416-392-2255
(cell) 416-708-8125



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