Surrey students organize blood drive in honour of teacher with rare condition

GUILDFORD — Iveta Finnson has been hospitalized four times since being diagnosed with a rare disorder of the bloodcoagulation system in 2006. Each time, she requires blood – a lot of blood. She can need the equivalent of 300 donations.

The Guildford Park Secondary teacher’s condition, thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) forced her to miss the first half of this school year. After returning home from the hospital, Finnson received an email from a fellow teacher at the school – an email that she said left her stunned.

Students and teachers at the school had started a campaign encouraging the school to participate in a blood drive – all in her honour.

"I was very touched," she said, her voice breaking as she smiled and looked at the three students who spearheaded the project. "There’s never enough blood available. I totally depend on these donations. They don’t know how far-reaching this really is… The fact that they are young and so full of great ideas and energy is amazing.

"I was in tears."

It all began when some students went with another teacher at the school to donate blood last November.

From there, an idea snowballed into a campaign to see how many fellow classmates and teachers they could get to jump on board.

"We can’t really give to our community that much," said senior Sarah Morse. "This was a way to give back."

They turned it into a competition – who could donate more, teachers or students?

They held a lunchtime event to "prick" fingers of those who wanted to take part to see their blood type and if they’d be eligible to give.

"It was overwhelming to see how many people came out," Morse said.

"It’s such an easy thing to do," said Katie Czenczek, another senior. "And it can literally save someone’s life."

Cabs then came to take students and teachers to a Guildford blood bank, and all in all, 28 students and 12 staff donated. But there were more than 70 students who were turned away, due to things like obesity or other disqualifications.

"I’m just so proud of our school," said Morse.

"Just the fact that they were willing to try," added Czenczek. "Even those who didn’t make it, they went out and did their best."

The drive went so well it will be carried on in future years, becoming an annual tradition for the high school.

Marko Gagic, a Grade 12 student who made the ad that was spread through the school, is a former student of Finnson’s.

"She gave me her knowledge, and I gave her my blood," he said with a cheeky smile.

We’ve all heard the slogan, "It’s in you to give," but Canadian Blood Services may want to consider stealing Gagic’s catch phrase – "Give blood. It doesn’t suck."

According to Canadian Blood Services, roughly every minute of every day someone in Canada needs blood. One person can donate whole blood up to six times a year, which can help up to 18 people.

For more information on donating visit Blood.ca.

areid@thenownewspaper.com

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