Every 60 seconds, someone in Canada needs blood. Seven years ago, it was Chris Pointer.
On June 2, 2008, Pointer was riding his motorcycle along Warman Road on the way to his mother’s house to wish her a happy birthday, but he didn’t make it. His wife, Amanda Taylor, said he hit a patch of gravel.
“The back tire of his bike caught the curb and ejected him off into a street sign,” she said, adding he was rushed to hospital. “Had to be resuscitated a bunch before going into emergency surgery.”
Pointer was given 20 units of blood because of major internal bleeding. Doctors and surgeons worked tirelessly for around 10 hours and ended up removing his spleen and part of his intestine. There was also damage to his liver, a bruise on his brain, broken bones in his back, and severe arm and leg fractures.
“They brought him out and put him in ICU and were not very sure if he was going to survive,” Taylor said. “His organs started to shut down … they got the internal bleeding to stop but he needed even more blood.”
Pointer was on life support in a medically induced coma for a month. Slowly he began to heal, and around four months later was able to go home. Taylor explained the healing will continue for the rest of their lives and Pointer will likely continue to get surgeries requiring blood, but she’s just grateful he is alive.
“We had a son who was four at the time … Chris wasn’t able to be there for (our son’s) first day of kindergarten … but he will be there for his graduation,” she said.
“Without people that donate blood, my husband wouldn’t be here.”
With summer, the national blood inventory has steadily declined and Canadian Blood Services explained it “needs a boost to continue to meet the needs of patients”.
Director of donor relations, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Northwest Territories Susan Matsumoto said they are encouraging people to donate.
“Summer and especially long weekends in the summer are very challenging times for us. I think the reason is that people just get busy and they take vacations so donating blood isn’t always top of mind to them,” she said.
“The hospital need and demand for blood it doesn’t change throughout the year.”
Ideally, Canadian Blood Services should have 20,000 to 30,000 units of blood in their inventory but they are sitting around 16,000. In Saskatchewan, they try to collect about 1,000 units of blood a week.
“According to the Canada Safety Council website, this isn’t a surprise, there are more fatalities and accidents that occur on Canadian roads throughout the summer months … It can take up to 50 units, or 50 donors, to help someone who has been involved in a serious car accident. It’s a big number,” Matsumoto said.
Currently there are around 300 open spots in Regina and 500 spots in Saskatoon to donate until next Friday.
There is a 50 per cent chance that a person or someone in their family will require blood at some point in their lifetime. Taylor hopes her story will help the need hit home.
“You don’t really think about it until it’s your husband, or your brother, or son laying in the hospital and you realize how it important it was. It’s something that you know is important when you hear the message go out … but you don’t really know exactly the full impact of what your donation could mean to somebody until you are in that situation,” she said.
“Without the generous people that donate blood … my husband wouldn’t be here today and my son wouldn’t have a father today.”
Follow on Twitter: @KellyGerMalone