The essentials of donating blood

With more than 25 donations to date, Mandy Webster knows all too well the importance of giving blood. For this mom, a registered pharmacy technician at Parkwood Institute’s Mental Health Care Building, it’s more than making an appointment, rolling up your sleeve, and eating some cookies. It has meant treating and curing her child’s disease. donating bloodAmanda Webster finishes donating blood at St. Joseph's Adopt-a-Clinic day on June 20.

In 2006, at only 14 weeks old, Mandy’s son Dylan was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease - a condition that harms the coronary arteries, which carry blood to the heart muscle. For treatment, Dylan relied on the generosity of a blood donor, which allowed him to receive intravenous immunoglobulin. Immunoglobulin is a protein in human blood and tissue fluids that functions as antibodies and helps the body's immune system recognize and destroy foreign substances, such as bacteria and viruses.

The Webster family while donating blood at Canadian Blood Services headquarters.

As a complication from the disease, Dylan ended up with two aneurisms and had a long, four-year journey of care requiring the expertise of pediatric cardiology. Today, Dylan shows no sign of his shaky start and Mandy is grateful for the amazing care team and the kindness of a complete stranger. 

“You have great hopes for your children to achieve goals, play sports and be with friends,” said Mandy. “Because of someone’s generosity to give blood, our son was able to make a full recovery from this disease. Dylan is now a happy, healthy 10-year-old with no life restrictions.

Since her son’s diagnosis, Mandy and her husband, Noel, make every effort to donate blood regularly to provide the same special gift to other families. Like most people, Mandy hates needles but understands how essential it is to roll up her sleeve and the tremendous impact is has on others’ lives. This makes her the perfect motivator for others. She believes the more you talk about it, the more you can get people to donate.

Mandy and Noel don’t go alone to their appointments – accompanying them are Dylan and sister, Alyssa. “I believe it’s significant and inspiring for my kids to see how their parents are playing a crucial role in saving lives,” said Mandy. “My hope is that one day they will want to do the same.”

“I do this not only because of my past experience, but also because you never know if or when you or your family will be in a situation where blood is necessary for recovery,” adds Mandy. “When you donate for a good cause, it always leaves you feeling good.”

Every year St. Joseph’s Health Care London supports Canadian Blood Services as a participant in the Partners for Life program – a nationwide program that engages corporate companies and community organizations in donating blood on a larger scale.  As a program participant, St. Joseph’s sets an annual blood donation target, plays an important role in increasing awareness of the need for blood, and rallies staff, physicians and volunteers to make a strong and lasting commitment to blood donation.

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