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TELEGRAM SAVES LIVES: We’re grateful for our healthy little hero

Kaleb’s family says they feel blessed that whenever it was needed, whole blood and platelets were available to him in his treatments for leukemia. — Contributed photo
Kaleb’s family says they feel blessed that whenever it was needed, whole blood and platelets were available to him in his treatments for leukemia. — Contributed photo

Editor’s note: The annual Telegram Saves Lives campaign runs this year until Oct. 24. As part of our efforts to encourage people to give blood, we’re running a series of letters from people whose lives were changed by blood donation. Nicole Slaney of Placentia submitted this one about her son, Kaleb.

He wakes every morning with a smile, he loves to play softball with the neighbours, have sleepovers with his friends and watch “Home Alone” with his family all year round. Kaleb is our hero, our fighter and more importantly our healthy and happy nine-year-old son.

In July 2015, at the age of three, Kaleb was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Our world forever changed, and the importance of blood and blood products became one of our main concerns. When you sit in a hospital room with a team of doctors who begin the hardest conversation of your life with “The majority of your son’s blood is cancer cells,” you quickly learn the significance of the red liquid that circulates through our bodies.

For months after Kaleb’s diagnosis and during his intense chemotherapy regime, he received numerous blood and platelet transfusions. He sat many days hooked to an IV pole as we watched blood drop one bead at a time down into the tube and out through the needle inserted into Kaleb’s chest. We were blessed in the fact that whenever it was needed, whole blood and platelets were available to him. It is because of people who selflessly come to donor clinics across our province and country and roll up their sleeves that Kaleb and many children like him have the ability to fight and conquer diseases such as cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

When you sit in a hospital room with a team of doctors who begin the hardest conversation of your life with “The majority of your son’s blood is cancer cells,” you quickly learn the significance of the red liquid that circulates through our bodies.

As a way to highlight the importance of blood donations, we sponsor a blood donor event in our hometown of Placentia. People continue to show their support every year as they come and roll up their sleeves and donate blood for children like Kaleb or other family members, neighbours, friends and strangers. These kind-hearted and devoted individuals recognize the importance of donating blood to save the many lives of Canadians who need it the most and therefore they take action. At our sponsored event Kaleb comes and personally thanks each and every donor. He is so proud to provide donors with treats and thank-you cards as a way to show his and our appreciation. He realizes that it is because of Canadian Blood Services and their dedication to the people of our communities, province and country that he is able to smile in the morning, play with friends each day and be our healthy and happy hero.

I know you’ve heard it before, but I beg you — as a mother who knows firsthand how busy life can be, and how there are lots of other things that can take up our time — to please donate your blood. Grab a friend and a coffee and spend an hour catching up while you save a life. Take your teenage son or daughter to a clinic and donate together — what a powerful learning experience you can give your child while you save a life. Or if all else fails, go yourself. Trust me when I say that once you are finished donating your blood, you’ll feel good about the impact you have had on someone else's life.

Today, Kaleb’s kindness and empathy for others is a testament to those who stood by him and us as he fought cancer. He is a typical boy who loves to be active, make others laugh and hopefully in three years he will be able to say he is cured of cancer. From my family, thank you to all those who have, continue to and will donate blood. You may never know the person who so graciously received your donation, but please know they are forever thankful and, more importantly, alive because of you.

Canadian Blood Services needs to collect 14,000 units of blood and blood products annually in Newfoundland and Labrador.
To book a spot, go online at www.blood.ca or call 1-888-2-DONATE

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