Honouring Canada’s Lifeline (HCL) is an annual, national event recognizing some of the country’s most dedicated people at the heart of Canada’s Lifeline.
Each year, it takes hundreds of thousands of blood donors, stem cell donors, organ and tissue donors, financial donors, employees and volunteers — as well as thousands of community and corporate groups and partners — to save the lives of patients across Canada. Honouring Canada’s Lifeline is our opportunity to recognize the many contributors along that path.
Honouring Canada's Lifeline Live Event
This year, we celebrated virtually with special guest host Andrew Phung. We hope you enjoy this story about the power of connections: from blood and plasma, to stem cells, and organs and tissues.
Andrew Phung’s infectious and relatable personality has made him one of Canada's top comedic performers, best known for his award-winning performance on the hit CBC show Kim’s Convenience.
Starting his path as a performer at the Loose Moose Theatre Company in Calgary, Andrew developed a love for the stage and saw it as the one place where he fit in and could be himself. Over a decade later he continues to be a part of the Theatre, both as a senior ensemble performer and instructor.
Dustin Windross is passionate about adventure and the outdoors. You’ll often find him mountain biking on the trails in Kamloops, B.C with his wife and kids, or with his colleagues from We Are One Composites, a manufacturer of bike components, where he works as a production manager.
Jason Krause, a math teacher at Centennial High School in Calgary, is multiplying the community of blood donors one class at a time. A long-time blood donor himself — and a stem cell registrant — he’s motivated thousands of students, teachers and even parents to become donors since 2012.
“I can’t tell you how inspiring it is to work with these 17- and 18-year-olds,” says Jason, who began donating in his early 20s to help a younger cousin, who later passed away.
Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) has been a Partner for Life for over a decade. Hosting mobile donation events, recruiting student donors and running their annual Blood Battle Challenge — with participation from their student body and the University of Waterloo’s — were all things Canadian Blood Services came to count on.
The vision of Tzeachten First Nation is to remain the keepers of their traditional territories. This responsibility has been passed on to them by their ancestors and exercised through cultural, environmental and socio-economic stewardship. Respect is the foundation for all that they do and they practice a strong work ethic, role-model attitudes and behaviors that inspire those around them. They understand that a safe and active community promotes healthy individuals and families.
Canadian engineering, energy and logistics company, ATCO, has been a strong supporter and Canadian Blood Services’ Partners for Life member since 2010. ATCO has collectively donated more than 2,000 units of blood over the last decade.
Despite the pandemic, ATCO champions never stopped promoting the need for blood products and employees answered the call.
In 2020, amid the disruptions of COVID-19, they exceeded their target, collecting an impressive 198 units of blood.
Genoa Design International highly values community involvement. The shipbuilding design firm, located in Mt. Pearl, Nfld., has been an engaged Partner for Life since 2019, after employee Corey Woodford pitched the idea.
“The company founders strongly believe in giving back,” says Corey, who coordinates several annual donation events. “They allow you to take company time to go donate and they pay you for it.”
That first year, 79 employees participated in 10 Life Bus events. Many have become regular blood donors, even during the pandemic.
Comprised of more than 8,000 medical students at 15 universities across the country, the Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS) promotes the need for blood, plasma and other blood products. CFMS also encourages members to join Canadian Blood Services stem cell registry and supports donation events through group and individual bookings.
Pavneet Sandhu is a third-year university student at the University of Winnipeg, completing her undergraduate degree in bio-chemistry.
After learning about cancer in high school and having family members diagnosed with the disease, she became more interested in pursuing a medical career. She has plans to become an oncologist, which is what led her to volunteering with Canadian Blood Services.
Rosemarie Tremblay has served the community for more than 60 years. She first volunteered at age 14, helping an older sister with camp counselor duties. After more than 20 years as a Boy Scout leader, Rosemarie began to look for other volunteer opportunities and learned that the Canadian Red Cross needed help with its blood donor clinics. She signed on and for the past 27 years has volunteered continually in a variety of roles at donor events in Victoria, B.C.
Neill is an avid cyclist who has a passion for family and giving back. Terry Fox has been a particular inspiration to Neill, reinforcing his determination to contribute as much as he can to others. On the 40th anniversary of Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope, Neill challenged himself to bike 160 kilometres every week for 20 weeks. He also asked his friends, family and members of his community to contribute financially to Canadian Blood Services in support of his efforts.
Calvin Matchett has been a dedicated blood donor for many years, recently reaching an impressive milestone. On December 15, 2020, Calvin made his 150th donation and continues to roll up his sleeve every 56 days.
With no permanent donor centre in his community, Calvin drives over an hour to make his donations. His dedication has inspired many others, including his wife and daughter who joined him during his milestone donation to make their own donations too.
To celebrate her 65th birthday, Dottie North convinced more than 40 friends and family members to join her in donating blood at the donor centre in Red Deer, Alberta. Dottie made a party of it, supplying cake and decorations, and handing out the loot bags she’d prepared. Many of the partygoers were first-time donors.
Edmond Chan has a special appreciation for people who donate blood products, and for those who join Canadian Blood Services Stem Cell Registry. For 17 years, their generosity helped extend the life of his wife, Christina.
When Alec Roy completed his first blood donation in 2020, he extended a family tradition into a third generation. His grandfather Gerry donated during the Second World War, while his father Alan has completed more than 450 donations of whole blood and platelets. More than four decades ago, older sister Nancy — 134 donations and counting — accompanied Alan to his first donation; two other brothers also donate.
“It's a wonderful thing to do, you can't replace it,” says Alan Roy. “It's incredibly valuable to those who need it.”
Ian learned about blood donation from his father, who was a regular donor, and made his first donation in 1976 while attending university. Since that time, he has made more than 600 donations — a number that continues to rise as Ian makes regular donations during his retirement. He also does his best to inspire the next generation: his children have all donated blood and two of his grandchildren are keen to donate. Retirement has also afforded more time for Ian’s skydiving hobby and with over 1,000 jumps to his name, he has even promoted blood donation from the sky.
A long-time philanthropist and an extremely active and outdoorsy person, Garry wanted to mark his 70th birthday in a special way. It was his goal to bike across Canada in 70 days all while raising money for one of his favourite causes, Canadian Blood Services.
Francisco Rico-Garcia first joined Canada’s Lifeline as a teenager. He donated blood as part of a blood donor club at his high school and has continued to do so into adulthood.
Also while in high school, Francisco made the fateful decision to join Canadian Blood Services’ Stem Cell Registry. Just a few years later he was called to donate stem cells for a patient. He travelled from Edmonton to Calgary in order to do so, taking time out of a busy school schedule, but describes the process as quick and painless.
Elaine O’Keeffe first set out to support Canada’s Lifeline by donating blood, at the suggestion of a good friend who’d received blood during treatment for cancer. Unfortunately, she was ineligible, but she quickly found other ways to support our mission to help patients: through financial giving and volunteering, as well as by registering to donate umbilical cord blood.
Kryssandra Sammut, an emergency room nurse at Brampton Civic Hospital, recognizes the need for blood and blood products. So too does her partner, Corey Lapalme, an advanced care paramedic. This recognition inspires both to donate blood; Kryssandra has also donated platelets. They also know that when a baby is born, blood left in the umbilical cord and placenta is rich with potentially lifesaving stem cells. So when Kryssandra became pregnant with their first child, she signed up to donate their baby’s umbilical cord blood to Canadian Blood Services’ Cord Blood Bank.
For Lana, donating a kidney to save her brother Tony’s life was simply the right thing to do. But her family’s journey to kidney donation actually started more than three decades ago when Lana’s father donated one of his kidneys to Tony to help keep his son alive.
When that kidney began to fail, Tony, who has kidney disease, needed another one but no suitable match could be found in the family. Lana offered to help through the Kidney Paired Donation program.
This interprovincial organ sharing program matches transplant candidates with suitable living donors.
Carrie Vaughan’s decision to donate a kidney not only saved her brother’s life, but also enabled her to realize her dream to move back to New Brunswick, where she grew up. An exceptional golfer from a young age, Carrie played on the professional tour and for more than a decade worked as an instructor at Glen Abbey, one of Ontario’s — and Canada’s — most prestigious clubs.
Adrienne Charlie donated one of her kidneys to her adopted daughter a decade ago.
An Indigenous woman with roots in the Stó꞉lō Nation and Squamish First Nation communities, Adrienne had two children of her own and worked as a librarian when she met Elisa, an orphaned teenager. While in college, Elisa developed kidney disease.
“My best friend had died of kidney disease a few years earlier,” says Adrienne. “He had been on the waiting list for a transplant for 15 or 16 years.”
During her career as a nurse in Chisasibi, a small community along the eastern shore of James Bay in northern Quebec, Danielle Babin supported countless patients undergoing transplants or receiving dialysis. Her support for patients in need became profoundly personal when she learned that a woman in her community needed a kidney transplant. In the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, she decided to start the process with Hotel Dieu de Quebec, to become a living kidney donor.
Heidi Staddon’s interest in organ donation ended up saving two lives: her own and that of the patient who received her donated kidney.
When Heidi learned that a friend from high school needed a liver transplant, she put her name forward as a potential donor. During the screening process, doctors discovered an aneurism near one of Heidi’s kidneys. They advised surgical repair at some point and disqualified her from donating.
When Tania Grim was 34 years old, she learned that she had myelodysplastic syndrome, a cancer that impedes the production of blood cells. Chemotherapy and countless units of blood and platelets kept Tania alive, but the only effective long-term treatment was a transplant of stem cells. Fortunately, a suitable match was found in Germany and in 2017, transplant surgery succeeded.
Dr. Gilles Delage is an internationally recognized specialist in transfusion medicine and the prevention of infections transmissible by transfusion. A medical microbiologist by training, for 20 years he served as vice-president of medical microbiology affairs at Héma-Québec, the agency responsible for blood services in Québec. He retired in April 2021. A lifelong advocate of effective risk management in public health, Dr.
As a pediatric hematologist, oncologist and specialist in transfusion medicine, Dr. Hume has made important contributions to research, education, the safety of the blood supply and the welfare of patients in Canada, Uganda and beyond. Dr. Hume is also a former Canadian Blood Services’ employee, who joined the organization in 2001 as its first director of transfusion medicine.
While Ann Radelet is healthy and vibrant today, she credits Canadian Blood Services (as well as many doctors and nurses) for saving her life three miraculous times.
When she was 45 years old, and a mother to young teens, Ann began chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After about three years of treatment, her outlook remained grim. She was told by her physicians that a stem cell match and transplant would be her only hope.
Laura Todd is manager of strategic planning and business integration in Ottawa. She is known for her diligent work ethic and her commitment to Canadian Blood Services’ values.
“Her wonderful, warm, calm and compassionate demeanor make it an absolute pleasure to work with her,” shared one of her colleagues. “She sets the bar high and in her efforts to reach the next goal, she makes the time to help others achieve their best as well.”
Our stem cell manufacturing laboratory team in Ottawa is truly a group of heroes in every sense of the word. Their contributions and commitment have been, like many frontline health workers, under-recognized throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the pandemic began, the 19-person team spent countless hours overcoming many obstacles and working through numerous challenges because lives depended on it.
Ric Suggitt and his family moved to Lethbridge to coach the University of Lethbridge women’s rugby team after coaching national teams in Canada and the U.S. Ric reconnected his friendship with Toby Boulet, who was the university’s hockey team manager, and became his son Logan’s trainer shortly after.
Tragically, in late June of 2017, Ric suffered a brain hemorrhage which took his life.
Before he passed, a critical decision was made to donate his organs.