A thou­sand thanks for gift of life

Wo­man saved by blood donors is now help­ing to raise aware­ness

Windsor Star - - FRONT PAGE - TAY­LOR CAMP­BELL

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.

DAN JANISSE

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.

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