SURREY — If you wanted to talk to someone about donating blood, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone more passionate about it than Joban Bal.
“Giving blood doesn’t cost us anything, yet it can literally touch someone else’s life,” said the Newton resident. “But we usually don’t realize it until it affects people close to us, people in our family.”
Bal, a first-year sciences student at UBC, graduated from Tamanawis Secondary in 2016.
Although he was too young to donate blood until his senior year, Bal has worked tirelessly to urge others to donate through Canadian Blood Services since he was 15, running the Young Blood for Life program at Tamanawis for two years.
He says visiting his dying grandmother in hospital opened his eyes to certain issues in the medical community – the desperate need for blood being one of them.
“In Grade 10, I discovered there was a huge need and when I asked my relatives and friends, I found no one was donating,” he said. “When asked why, they had no reason – just because they had never been approached about it.”
In his senior year at Tamanawis, Bal organized the school’s first ever blood clinic, where 97 people signed up in one day – 89 of them being new donors.
Later that same year, the school hosted another blood clinic, where 56 people donated blood, 40 of those being new donors.
Most recently, in December, Bal and a group of Canadian Blood Service’s One Blood for Life volunteers braved the miserable winter weather outside the Surrey Blood Donor clinic in Guildford to round up donors. The dedicated group helped round up 152 donations.
Making this kind of impact is what keeps Bal dedicated to his cause.
“That’s when it really pays off,” he said. “Me personally, I can only donate so many times. But if I can change someone else’s mind about donating blood and they go on to tell someone else about donating blood, then it’s a ripple effect.
“And that’s when change really occurs. And rather than touch just one life, we touch many.”
Nancy Bryan, territory manager for Canadian Blood Services, said because one of the biggest challenges at the Surrey clinic is the location – the community doesn’t quite know where the clinic is – Bal and the other volunteers were a huge help. She said they stood in the pouring rain holding signs that read “Blood donors needed today” along 152nd Street to attract passersby.
And their strategy worked.
“Many donors stated they had been meaning to donate and when they saw the students holding the signs they turned around and came in to donate,” Bryan said.
“The students can be very proud of themselves for making a huge impact.”
The Surrey Blood Clinic is located at 15285 101 Ave., which is next to Guildford Town Centre beside the ICBC office in the Boardwalk Mall. It is open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
To donate, call 1-888-2 DONATE.
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