Meet just a few of the volunteers keeping Canada’s Lifeline strong

April 15, 2024
National Volunteer Week 2024

They’re welcoming donors to our sites, recruiting for the stem cell registry, organizing concerts and more. And we’re so grateful.

Volunteers are central to our mission to help every patient, match every need and serve every Canadian. Their stories illustrate the profound difference we can make together, whether by making donors feel welcome at our sites, recruiting young people to the stem cell registry, fundraising to support recruitment and research and more.

This National Volunteer Week, we’re thrilled to celebrate our volunteers and partners and thank them for their support.

Want to become a volunteer? Check out our volunteer page

‘When donors come here, I want them to leave with a smile’  

woman in red vest standing in kitchen with arms crossed behind her back
Nina Graham has been welcoming Vancouver donors with a smile for decades. 

After she retired in the late 1980s, Nina Graham wanted to stay active and help others, so she started volunteering at the Oak Street donor centre in Vancouver, B.C. At 95, she’s still going strong.  

“My idea is when donors come here, I want them to leave with a smile,” she says.  

It’s a simple idea in service of an important goal: keeping Canada’s Lifeline strong. The national blood system currently relies heavily on a small number of dedicated donors, and we need many more people to join them in the years ahead. Conversation and small acts of kindness go a long way to help donors feel welcome, valued, and eager to return. 

With her decades of experience, Nina has plenty of wisdom to offer new volunteers who want to make a difference — in our centres, and perhaps in the world beyond as well.   

“Be respectful. Put your phone away. Put your book away. Tend to the present.”  

Volunteering to recruit the next generation of donors 

young man and three young females standing in front of a Canadian Blood Services display panel
Trinity Pambis (second from left) educates her peers about blood, plasma, platelet, stem cell and organ and tissue donation.  

As the president of the University of Waterloo Blood Club, a team within the youth-focused NextGen Lifeline program, Trinity Pambis uses social media to promote blood donation events. She’s also run a series of campus events where volunteers recruited hundreds of young people to the stem cell registry — a vital resource for patients in need of an unrelated stem cell donor.   

“I like being part of something bigger than myself, helping others and advocating for what I believe in,” says Trinity, who is pursuing a degree in kinesiology. “My volunteering work has allowed me to connect with my community on a deeper level.”  

Icon of two swabs

Did you know...

a patient is more likely to find a stem cell match in a donor of the same race or similar ethnicity? That’s why we encourage people of all backgrounds to join Canadian Blood Services Stem Cell Registry. Currently, people who are Black, Indigenous, Asian, Hispanic or mixed-race make up only about a third of registrants.

Registration is easy! If you are between the ages of 17 and 35 and in good health, start the process online.


Volunteers welcoming donors of all backgrounds 

man standing by donor on a donation bed
Mukesh Chandarana is a volunteer at the plasma donor centre in Windsor, Ont. 

Mukesh Chandarana is a retired high school teacher from India, who came to Canada with his wife to visit their daughters and support their academic and career pursuits. After arriving, he also sought out ways to help others.  

At Canadian Blood Services’ plasma donor centre in Windsor, Ont., Mukesh greets donors, ensures they are comfortable and encourages them to book future appointments. He is also one of more than 1,500 Canadian Blood Services volunteers who speak at least one language in addition to English. (Mukesh himself speaks Gujarati, his native language, and Hindi.) These volunteers are helping to create the vital community links we need to build a more diverse donor base — which is essential to serve patients now and into the future. 

Although his current visit to Canada is nearing its end, Mukesh plans to resume his role as a Canada’s Lifeline volunteer when he returns.   

“I will always be there with Canadian Blood Services because it was a very nice experience,” he says. “I think each and every person should do this type of volunteering.” 

A volunteer pays it forward after donors saved his own life 

woman and three men standing in front of a display wall
George Parent, second from left, is a liver transplant recipient and a passionate advocate for blood donation and organ and tissue registries.  

George Parent learned about the importance of organ donors at a young age, when his father received a heart transplant. Then he felt their impact even more directly when he was diagnosed with cancer, which led to a liver transplant in September 2023.  

Today, this Kingston, Ont., resident is a passionate advocate for blood and organ donation. Besides his personal battle, George has dedicated over 20 years to serving as a volunteer firefighter, demonstrating his commitment to helping others. Even though he is still recovering from his own cancer treatment and transplant surgery, he shared his journey and the importance of donation at the Move 98.3 live radio feed event at the Kingston Donor Centre on March 7th, aiming to inspire more people to consider organ and tissue donation.     

“Volunteering makes me feel great,” says George. “[It’s about] helping somebody down the road, that might be able to wake up and do what I do every morning and say, ‘I’m here because somebody else donated blood and their organs.’”  

‘I try to remember everybody’s name’ 

Two women in red vests standing behind a woman sitting in a chair
Krisanne Flinders (right) with Bonnie, a fellow volunteer, and a donor named Lindsay at Canadian Blood Services’ donor centre in Barrie, Ont.

As a volunteer at Canadian Blood Services’ donor centre in Barrie, Ont., Krisanne Flinders’s mission is “to thank donors and make sure they know they’re appreciated,” she says. “I try to remember everybody’s name.” 

Krisanne has also given out swag at Hockey Gives Blood events, engaging hockey fans in conversations about how they can contribute to Canada’s Lifeline. She’s also supported a blood drive for students in health sciences at a local college.  

Krisanne’s advocacy continues at home, too.  

“When my daughter Emma turned 17, she came to donate at the Barrie donor centre because I encouraged her to give it a try,” says Krisanne, who made her own 35th blood donation recently. “Seven years later, she and her fiancé are faithful plasma donors up in Sudbury. Emma has donated 19 times, and her fiancé is now up in the 30s.”  

Far from home, a volunteer makes time to serve her new community 

woman in red shirt standing in front of a table and chair
Cynthia Nwaozuzu has found fulfillment and a sense of belonging as a volunteer in London, Ont. 

Cynthia Nwaozuzu started volunteering for Canada’s Lifeline in the fall of 2023 when she came to Canada from Nigeria to study at Fanshawe College in London, Ont. With a background in community service back home, she was inspired by the opportunity to support patients and make a difference in her new community.   

 “Your time matters,” she says. “Your energy and your dedication can make a big difference in the lives of others.”  

While studying in Canada, Cynthia is away from her husband and son, and volunteering is a way to make some social connections. Not to mention inspire her new friends and classmates.   

“I think before this year [ends], all of them are going to become volunteers for Canadian Blood Services.” 

Volunteers with Sikh Nation help save thousands of lives each year 

man and two females holding a sign
Jastej Kaur (centre) has volunteered with the annual Sikh Nation campaign alongside her family since it began in November 1999. 

Sikh Nation is one of the top contributors of blood and plasma through the Partners for Life program, which helps people and organizations form teams to donate together. In 2023, Sikh Nation celebrated its 25th annual campaign, organizing 31 donation events across Canada. Their donations over the decades have helped save more than 176,000 lives in total. 

“Every year, I look forward to this campaign with my fellow volunteers, and seeing the faces and numbers change as the Sikh Nation living monument grows exponentially,” says Jastej Kaur, who supports the campaign as both a volunteer and donor.  

Together, all Partners for Life donors and volunteers help us collect more than 300,000 donations of blood and plasma every year. Donating together builds closeness among team members and strengthens their commitment to support patients. 

Partners for Life groups including Sikh Nation are also vital to our efforts to build a more diverse donor base, which is essential to meeting the needs of patients with rare or complex blood needs. 

Volunteers rock out to help save lives

three men on stage playing electric guitars
Ottawa band Resist the Throne helped organize a music festival to raise funds for Canadian Blood Services.  

News of a donor shortage, along with the story of a child who needed blood during cancer treatment, were the inspiration for Bloodbash – a music festival in Ottawa, Ont., that raised money through ticket sales for Canadian Blood Services.  

More than $2,300 was raised over the course of the two-day festival in February 2024. It featured five Canadian musical acts, including the band Resist the Throne.  

“It was really fun to rock out with all the other amazing bands, sponsors and festivalgoers in support of this cause,” said the group, which also organized the event in conjunction with the creators of a podcast called The Pop Cult EX-perience.  “All the money raised came from the incredible support of our community and we’re so grateful.” 

Financial donations to Canadian Blood Services support a broad range of activities, from recruitment of blood and plasma donors to world-class research.  

Bloodbash is a great example of how volunteer support in many forms can have a big impact — and of how music can not only bring us together, but also help save lives.  
Inspired to become a volunteer and start your own fundraising event? Get started here. 

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