Distance doesn’t stop dedicated military donor from saving lives

Part of our “Heroes of financial giving” series

November 10, 2020
Image of blood donor Corporal Laura Matern sitting on a rock wearing full military uniform

When Corporal Laura Matern joined the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in 1986, donating blood quickly became just another regular part of her military life.

“I was 17 when I joined the military and right away, I saw a lot of my colleagues from the armory talking about donating blood regularly or going as a group to the donor centre downtown,” she says.

“I tagged along one day with a friend to make my first blood donation — and I’ve made over 50 more since then.”

For many years, while living and working in Calgary, Alta., Cpl. Matern diligently made appointments to donate blood as often as she could.

Sometimes, she would head down to her local donor centre at lunch. Other times, she’d go after work with her CAF colleagues. Then, as her family began to grow, Cpl. Matern and her husband would also make plans to donate together, often with their three young daughters in tow.

“I have some great early memories of having our kids with us when we were making our blood donations,” she recalls.

“One of our daughters would be on my husband’s lap, just fascinated as she watched the blood flow from his arm into the bag. Meanwhile, I’d have our baby on my lap while I made my donation and watched our third daughter hang out in the refreshment area, snacking on juice and cookies.”

When a work relocation in 2005 took Cpl. Matern’s family to the remote community of Crescent Valley, B.C., however, she was no longer able to regularly access a donor centre.

Although Canadian Blood Services is committed to providing blood and blood products to every patient in need and offers more than 18,000 blood donation events across the country every year to meet those needs, the organization simply cannot collect blood in every community in Canada.

“Donating blood had become a huge part of my life, so it was definitely an adjustment to be four hours away [from a blood donor centre or collection event],” Cpl. Matern says.

Determined to continue to help save the lives of her fellow Canadians despite the new geographical challenges she was facing, Cpl. Matern discovered that she could still make a significant impact through financial giving.

Financial gifts in support of Canada’s Lifeline help fund programs and initiatives that educate and recruit new blood and stem cell donors, drive research and innovation in transfusion and transplantation medicine, and help strengthen our country’s national blood supply system.

Cpl. Matern was excited to learn that even though she could no longer regularly donate blood herself, her financial gifts could still help to connect patients with the lifesaving products and services they need.

Some military members are authorized to participate in “casual Friday” every week in exchange for donating to a registered charity of their choice. Cpl. Matern decided to take advantage of this CAF charitable program by donating to Canadian Blood Services.

Now, almost 15 years later, she still proudly makes a monthly financial gift in support of Canada’s Lifeline.

“As a longtime blood donor, finding another way to give when I couldn’t donate blood just seemed like an obvious choice,” she says.

“As a military member, I see this continued commitment to patients simply as an extension of my service to Canadians.”

Cpl. Matern still tries to donate blood whenever her travels take her to areas where blood collection events are held, but her ongoing financial contributions serve as a strong reminder of the many ways you can support Canada’s Lifeline — no matter who you are or where you live.

Celebrating our heroes of financial giving and their lifesaving impact  

At Canadian Blood Services, we need donors of all kinds to support us in our quest to help every patient, match every need and serve every Canadian.  

Financial donors play a role in strengthening Canada’s Lifeline by helping us to grow and diversify our donor base and invest in cutting-edge research and technology that will help to meet ongoing and emerging patient needs.  

That’s why this November, we’re celebrating our heroes of financial giving. 

Financial supporters of Canadian Blood Services are generous individuals, organizations and partners from across the country who hold fundraisers, make monthly or annual financial contributions, invest in innovative research or honour their loved ones by supporting patients.   

In celebration of National Philanthropy Day (Nov. 15), we’re publishing a series of stories all through the month, to profile our growing community of financial supporters and to recognize how their generosity is helping us to catalyze meaningful change for patients and their families.  

Read our latest annual report to financial donors to learn more about the impact of financial gifts to Canadian Blood Services. 


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