A thousand thanks for gift of life
Woman saved by blood donors is now helping to raise awareness
When Samar Nohra was 11 years old, doctors gave her three months to live.
Two decades later, she’s now thanking blood donors for saving her life, and encouraging others to roll up their sleeves to give.
As a child, the 32-year-old Windsor woman was diagnosed with aplastic anemia, a rare disease in which bone marrow stops producing blood cells, causing fatigue, increasing the risk of bleeding and leaving patients vulnerable to infection. During a four-month stay at Sick Kids in Toronto, and over a year after that, she received almost 1,000 units of blood and platelet transfusions. That’s blood and platelets from almost 1,000 individual donors.
“Just imagine, throughout the entire country, every minute of every day, somebody needs blood,” said Nohra, who spent Saturday morning at Canadian Blood Services Windsor, where a blood drive was dedicated in her honour. “If I was requiring that many units of blood, just imagine how many more also needed it. If it wasn’t available for me at the same time that it was available for them, I wouldn’t be here today.”
It’s not just people with rare diseases that rely on blood donors, Nohra said. Cancer patients, transplant recipients, and accident victims are all saved, every day, by blood transfusions in Canada. “Unfortunately, only four per cent of Canadians even try and are donating blood, which is a very small number,” Nohra said. “We’re Canadians. We’re known for being awesome and kind, and we just need to promote how important it is to also donate blood. That’s why this means so much to me to be able to do this and to be able to raise awareness.” After her lengthy but successful treatment, Nohra couldn’t wait to turn 17 — the minimum age required in Canada to donate blood — so she could finally help others the way she had been helped. Only then did she learn her diagnosis meant she would never be allowed to donate blood in her lifetime.
Since then, she’s been advocating for Canadian Blood Services. At age 18, Nohra travelled the country, sharing her story as the organization’s national spokesperson. Now, she speaks out locally in favour of blood donation as often as she can. “I just feel like it’s my job to give back, pay it forward, and be able to advocate for those who can’t advocate for themselves — for patients who are in the hospital right now, cancer patients, trauma patients who need blood transfusions and can’t come out and ask for it,” Nohra said. “Because I’ve been blessed, I feel like it’s my job to pay it forward and advocate for them, and raise awareness for the ongoing need for blood.” Now in complete remission, Nohra continues to push everyone she can to book an appointment with Canadian Blood Services. “It’s so important to donate not just once, but come back, keep doing it. Bring your friends and tell your family to come with you.”
To make an appointment to donate blood, visit www.blood. ca.
Sarah Fabiano, left, is shown with Samar Nohra at Canadian Blood Services Windsor on Saturday. At the age of 11, Nohra was diagnosed with aplastic anemia that required almost 1,000 units of blood and platelet transfusions. Now she’s on a mission to encourage more blood donors.