Traumatic accident inspires Mount Pearl man to donate platelets

Andrew
Andrew Robinson
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Jim Trumbull remains thankful that when he needed blood transfusions following a horrific logging accident, the supply was there for him. The resident of Mount Pearl regularly donates platelets at the Canadian Blood Services office in St. John's.

Jim Trumbull knows all too well about the importance of giving blood.

"It's such an important service," he said, seated on a couch at his home in Mount Pearl. "It's the gift of life. There's nothing more important you can give than that."

On Oct. 22, 1984, Trumbull was operating a steel spar on the north end of Vancouver Island when a log weighing between five-to-seven tonnes and travelling at a speed of 60 kilometres per hour crashed into him.

The impact left Trumbull with one less kidney, a broken neck, and head injuries.

"It was about a month and a half later that I woke up in the acute spinal chord unit at Shaughnessy Hospital in Vancouver," said Trumbull. "At that point, I couldn't move anything. I couldn't even breathe by myself."

An errant screwdriver had managed to stab Trumbull in one of his kidneys, resulting in significant blood loss. He later underwent exploratory surgery to have the damaged kidney removed. He was also bleeding profusely from the head.

"I'm really grateful for all that blood and people making donations, because if they didn't, I wouldn't be here today."

Trumbull required extensive rehabilitation in order to regain motor skills for performing simple tasks, and today he can walk with the aid of a cane, dance, and drive a car. The accident also forced him to give up smoking.

Understanding how important a sufficient blood supply was to his survival, Trumbull has since become a regular platelet donor for Canadian Blood Services. Platelets are small cell fragments that circulate in the blood.

Trumbull donated blood once as a teenager prior to the accident.

Trumbull was eager to begin donating again once he started recovering, but he was told a full-recovery would be necessary.

"I love it," he said of his experience being a regular donor. "Every now and then you'll feel a little pinch, but usually it's nothing more than a little tickle. Sometimes there's absolutely no sensation. The worst part is getting the (bandage) off."

His willingness to donate platelets is part of what seems to be a stedfast willingness to offer his time to others as much as he can.

"I couldn't see myself just sitting around," he said. "I thought a system that was so generous to me and provided me with such a good lifestyle and recovery gave me a chance to give something back."

Aside from working a variety of jobs over the years, Trumbull has served on various boards and volunteered his time towards data entry and fundraising efforts for non-profit groups. He now spends much of his time assisting people with developmental disabilities.

"I really enjoy working with the people I work with," he said.

To those fully capable of donating blood who have not found the time to do so, Trumbull said they need to think about the greater good of society. He notes the vast majority of Canadians are eligible to donate blood or platelets, yet only a small fraction of them do so.

"Look at the need that's there," he said. "If you've got the time, even if it's only for an hour and half of your time every 50-60 days, it's really nothing. You can find that (time) in your schedule."

arobinson@thetelegram.com Twitter: TeleAndrew

The Telegram is encouraging readers to donate blood this week as part of its annual The Telegram Saves Lives blood drive campaign. The blood drive runs from Oct. 24-28. Check The Telegram this week for more stories on donating blood, and Click Here to visit a special section of our website with more stories and videos.

Organizations: Shaughnessy Hospital, Canadian Blood Services

Geographic location: Mount Pearl, Vancouver Island

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  • Brenda
    October 26, 2011 - 02:55

    Jim is a good friend of mine, as well as my hero. He is always cheerfully tenacious, generous and kind, and the nicest and most sincere person I have ever met. Jim has *always* worked and volunteered; not every able-bodied person can say that. After almost bleeding to death in the hospital last year, as well as needing transfusions this past spring. I have come to appreciate blood donors more than ever. If you can, please give. If you have a rare blood type like I do, your donation is extra important. @ Jim: you are loved and admired.