A friendly blood donation competition between teachers and students at a Surrey school has produced life-saving results.
The community at Guildford Park Secondary was moved to start the blood drive after hearing school teacher Iveta Finnson had needed multiple transfusions to keep her alive.
Finnson has a rare condition called thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, which only about 20 other people in B.C. have. The condition stops her blood working properly and can be fatal. Treatment can require more than 300 units of donated blood.
“There has to be a constant supply of blood delivered to the bank,” says Finnson. “I don’t have the luxury to line up for it. I have to go to the hospital and be sure there is blood for me. I can’t say how thankful I am to the staff and students and everyone who participates in the drive.”
Fellow teachers Kristin Dorey and Tammie Stockli, and inner-city school worker Julia Wood, decided they were going to give blood. Then the students said they wanted to give, too, and they embraced the resulting competition wholeheartedly.
“We have a magnificent group of students who want to help others and don’t have the financial means to help. To know that this was a different way that they can give, that was so powerful to them,” says Stockli.
Dorey says she has loved seeing the students educating others about the lives they can save by giving blood.
As part of the effort to raise awareness, the students competed to create a design for T-shirts donated to the campaign, with the winning entry coming from Grade 11 student Veronica Bukowsky. The students won the T-shirts after beating the teachers by having a greater proportion of their eligible group take part. More than 75 students registered as blood donors and 49 units have been donated, while 38 staff members have registered and 16 donated.
The school now plans to make the blood drive an annual initiative.