Donors encouraged to honour childhood cancer awareness month

Canadians can help childhood cancer patients by donating blood, stem cells or cord blood

Canadian Blood Services is asking eligible donors to make an appointment to donate blood this September in honour of childhood cancer awareness month.

“We hope Canadians will consider taking an hour out of their schedule this month to help save the life of a child fighting cancer,” says Mark Donnison, vice-president of donor relations. “With many families returning from summer vacation, we want to encourage them to include blood donation as part of their new regular routine. There are over 55,000 open appointments across Canada during the month of September. Men between 17 and 35 can sign up to be a stem cell donor and expectant mothers can also help by donating their baby’s cord blood.”

Families affected by childhood cancer and childhood cancer survivors will share their stories throughout the month of September by visiting local blood donor clinics across the country. Donors are also encouraged to bring a friend or family member to their next appointment.

One of these childhood cancer survivors is Stephanie Simmons, who founded the Gold Ribbon Campaign with her family to raise awareness of childhood cancer, as well as the important role blood donations play in cancer treatment.

Stephanie is a three-time brain tumour survivor and was first diagnosed with cancer in 2004 when she was only nine years old. As part of her treatment she required ten different brain surgeries, 30 doses of radiation and underwent two years of chemotherapy. The chemotherapy severely affected Stephanie’s blood counts and she required multiple blood transfusions to allow her to continue with her treatment.

“I know that I would not be here today if it was not for generous blood donors who gave me a chance to beat this disease,” says Stephanie, who has been cancer-free since 2008. “Unfortunately, there are thousands of other children undergoing treatment for cancer across the country, and many of them are depending on blood products to continue making regular appointments.”

In addition to blood donation, Canadians can also make a lifesaving difference by signing up to join the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Registry or donating cord blood to the Canadian Blood Services’ Cord Blood Bank. Stem cell or cord blood transplants are used to treat 80 diseases and disorders, including certain forms of leukemias and lymphomas.

Quick Facts

  • On average it can take up to five blood donors to help one child undergoing cancer treatment.
  • It can take as many as eight donors a week to help a child with leukemia.
  • Every year approximately 1,500 children are diagnosed with cancer.
  • Every week 1,600 new blood donors are needed across Canada
  • At any given time there are hundreds of Canadians searching for a stem cell donor.

To book an appointment to help save a child’s life, download the GiveBlood app, visit Families affected by childhood cancer can share their story by using the hashtag #blood4kids