Community donates blood for young cancer patients

Young Heroes Nanaimo blood drive one of the largest for city

When Nanaimo’s Carmen Falconer heard a handful of children had been diagnosed with cancer, she wanted to give more than baked cookies. She decided to donate blood.

Falconer organized the Young Heroes Nanaimo blood drive, considered one of the largest seen in this city with 60 people slotted into blood donation appointments this week.

Falconer said her sons’ friends, classmates and hockey teammates were being diagnosed with cancer in quick succession of one another and she understood what they all needed were blood transfusions.

“This was my way of organizing something from afar and helping them with something they all had in common because sometimes people don’t want to say what they need or it’s not the right time to call them,” said Falconer, who has seen an overwhelming response to the drive and couldn’t be happier.

She saw on the Canadian Blood Services’ website that roughly every minute someone in Canada needs blood and said the last thing families need to think about is if there is blood for the children because it’s a big part of their treatment.

Nanaimo’s Lindsay Gunderson was sitting in one of the clinic chairs Tuesday, donating blood. Her eight-year-old son Carson, one of five children who prompted the drive, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma last year.

“When something like this happens it feels more like a small community where everyone comes together,” she said of the drive.

Carson had four transfusions during his treatment.

“For us it just heightens the need for donations,” said Gunderson, who’s previously given blood but never realized the need of cancer patients to have blood donations. “If he had gone through his treatment without transfusions we would probably still be in hospital, but it shortens the duration of treatment because they recover quicker and then are able to move onto the next round.”

Ann Chabert, territory manager for Canadian Blood Services, called the blood drive amazing.

She said the demand is constant for blood, which is usually at a hospital bed within five days saving somebody’s life. Canadian Blood Services collects about 650 units on the Island every week.

Blood clinics run in Nanaimo between Feb. 6-15. For more information see

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