‘Plasma products saved my daughter’s life’

As World Quality Month ends, Christie Beltran reflects on her daughter’s life-saving plasma transfusion and how she’s ensuring the safety and quality of Canadian Blood Services products for others in need

November 27, 2020
Image of Christie, a Filipino woman, wearing a blue jacket with a Canadian Blood Services pin on her lapel.

Twelve years ago, Christie Beltran’s daughter, Paula, was suffering severe flu-like symptoms — high fever, loss of appetite, no energy. Unable to get the fever under control, Christie brought her two-year-old to the local hospital.

The diagnosis was a viral infection and the doctor advised rest, fluids and medication to manage the fever. Back at home, Paula’s condition continued to deteriorate as the week went on and Christie became increasingly worried.

“I was looking at her on a daily basis and thinking, ‘Oh my God, how am I going to help my daughter?’” she says. “I started researching, paying attention to her symptoms. I brought her to her pediatrician and asked if he had ruled out Kawasaki disease. He looked at me, looked at my daughter, checked her symptoms and immediately sent us to Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto.”

Kawasaki disease is a rare illness that causes inflamed blood vessels and is one of the leading causes of heart disease in children. Children under age five and those of Asian descent are at higher risk of developing Kawasaki disease, although research has not yet found an exact cause.

When the specialist at Sick Kids said they could treat Paula with plasma to boost her immune system, Christie didn’t hesitate.

“It amazed me. Within 24 hours it was as if nothing happened, as if she hadn’t been sick. Plasma products saved her life,” says Christie.

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Two years after her daughter’s recovery, Christie left her job at a U.S. biotech company to work at Canadian Blood Services. As a validation associate in Brampton, Ont., she ensures the equipment and systems used to manufacture and test blood products are safe and effective.

“Working for Canadian Blood Services provides me with a sense of purpose,” she says. “We assess and eliminate risk. We test everything first to make sure we have the expected outcome. Quality is built in from the very beginning of the process to the end.”

November is World Quality Month, a month that celebrates quality achievements and recognizes those who uphold trust and improve performance every day of the year. Christie exemplifies these values through her work and as a tireless ambassador for Canadian Blood Services.

plasma transfusion recipient Paula in a white dress stands between her mother and father

Paula (centre), with her mother, Christie, and father, Roy, is now 14 years old thanks to a life-saving plasma transfusion at age two. 

Although her work doesn’t bring her in direct contact with patients, Christie remembers exactly what it was like when her daughter received the life-saving plasma she needed. Paula is now 14 years old and in perfect health, something Christie is grateful for every day.

“I like to contribute in my small way because I believe so much in our products,” she explains. “I know the service we provide creates safe and effective products for people who need it most. When I wrap up at the end of the day, I know we made a difference in somebody’s life.”

You can help patients like Paula who rely on life-saving plasma products. To book an appointment at a Canadian Blood Services donor centre, visit blood.ca/donate, download the GiveBlood app or call 1 888 2 DONATE. 

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