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Jett Woo brings team spirit to Hockey Gives Blood

Jett Woo, an NHL draft pick and star defenceman with the Calgary Hitmen, inspires others to donate as part of the Hockey Gives Blood campaign.

Inspiration
October 1, 2020
Featured headshot image of Jett Woo

“We’re helping to save lives. And that feels good.”

“To be honest, the idea of donating blood wasn’t even on my radar,” says Jett Woo, defenceman for the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League. “But then I made my first donation and saw how just a few minutes of your time can make so much of a difference. I told all my buddies, ‘Go and give blood. It’s an easy experience, and you’ll be helping a lot of people.’”

In fact, Jett’s influence extends well beyond his friends and teammates, reaching hockey fans across Canada who follow the game’s rising stars. Born in Winnipeg in 2000, he recently achieved the critical next step in a professional career: a three-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League.

Jett first got involved with supporting Canadian Blood Services at 17, when he was approached to help recruit potential stem cell donors. As a healthy young male, and especially as someone of mixed ethnicity (his parents are of Chinese and German heritage), he’s a perfect candidate for Canadian Blood Services Stem Cell Registry and a role model for other young people who can help build a more robust domestic donor base. “I was happy to bring more awareness to the need for stem cell registrants,” Jett says. “And I’m ready for that call to donate, if it comes.”

Interested in donating stem cells?

Stem cells provide potentially lifesaving treatment for more than 80 diseases and disorders including myelodysplastic syndrome, leukemia and other blood cancers. People in Canada between the ages of 17 and 35 can join Canadian Blood Services Stem Cell Registry by requesting a stem cell donor swab kit online.

“It’s like a whole team is helping out.”

On April 6, 2018, a semi-trailer truck crashed into a bus on a rural highway in Saskatchewan, killing 16 people and injuring 13 others. Nearly all of the victims were players with a junior hockey team, the Humboldt Broncos. The impact of the tragedy reverberated across Canada and worldwide, prompting a massive outpouring of concern and support. For young players like Jett, the news hit particularly hard: “I remember exactly where I was when I heard about it. And I know a lot of guys who were affected by the crash.”

Thankfully, public anguish over the Humboldt tragedy has also yielded some positive outcomes — notably the success of Green Shirt Day (honouring the Broncos’ team colours), which is now the centerpiece of National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week. (Canadian Blood Services is a lead participant in both events.) The crash survivors’ recovery from traumatic injuries has also inspired another national campaign, Hockey Gives Blood, which brings together professional players at all levels with the wider hockey community to promote blood donation.

“There are a lot of hockey players out there helping to make a difference,” says Jett, who links the campaign’s success to the fundamental values of dedication and teamwork that drive his game. “If one person donates, that helps a lot. But it doesn’t do the whole job. Every 60 seconds, someone else needs blood. And as more and more people donate, it’s like a whole team is helping out the person who needs it.”

 The need for blood is constant for patients across Canada. To organize your own blood donor event, contact the nearest Canadian Blood Services donor centre. To book an appointment to donate, download the GiveBlood app, call 1 888 2 DONATE or visit blood.ca/donate. Enhanced safety measures are in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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