Blood transfusions keep this London teen alive, but there’s a need for more donors

Canadian Blood Services is calling for Londoners to roll up their sleeves and give a little blood this summer.

Blood reserves are getting low across the province and donating a few pints can be the difference between life and death for some people, said Lauren Malott, whose son, Jack Malott-Clarke, was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia in 2019.

“If it wasn’t for blood donors, Jack wouldn’t have been able to attend his grade eight graduation with all his buddies. That was such a happy moment for my family to see Jack able to do that,” Malott said.

Severe aplastic anemia is a serious blood disorder where the patient’s bone marrow cannot make enough new red blood cells and platelets. It leaves them fatigued and more prone to infections that can be potentially life-threatening.

To encourage people to get out and give blood, Malott and her son turned their love of cosplay into an international movement they called ‘Suit Up for Jack‘ where donors take pictures of themselves in costume giving blood.

“It doesn’t have to be a superhero. It can be a Star Wars character or a princess, whoever you like. We’ve had Jason from Friday the 13th Donate blood,” Malott said.

Lauryn Malott alongside her son Jack Malott-Clarke who is dressed up as his favourite superhero: Captain America. (Isha Bhargava/CBC)

Need for blood ‘never ending’

Canadian Blood Services said Ontario needs to fill 5,000 donation appointments to meet sufficient inventory levels for the rest of July. The need for blood is constant with only a small number of eligible Canadians choosing to donate, especially during the summer months.

“People are off enjoying vacations and they’re sort of forgetting that there are still patients that need them,” said Adrian Alexander, the Strategic Communications Specialist at Canadian Blood Services.

“We do often see things come ahead as routines come back into swing again into the fall. But that need really is constant. There are patients that still need support and it only takes an hour of time.”

Canadian Blood Services announced its decision to drop its masking and physicial distancing requirements on Monday
Canadian Blood Services announced its decision to drop its masking and physicial distancing requirements on Monday (Azami Adiputera/Shutterstock)

Since being diagnosed in 2019, Jack has had over 150 blood transfusions, a count that Malott said she stopped tracking because it was just too stressful a reminder of his condition.

“When he was in for treatment it was constant. It was every day. I’m just going to be thankful for our great team and the blood donors out there,” she said.

For those who might be nervous about donating, Malott said there is little to worry about as long as you’re healthy and waiting long enough between donations. On the positive side, you can save a life, she said.

“We just want people to get out there and continue to donate blood because you really do help.”

Anyone interested in donating canĀ visit the blood services’ website.

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