Blood and sports sometimes go hand-in-hand, but not so much with curling — until now.
A group of four curlers is teaming up with Canadian Blood Services (CBS) and organizing a blood drive to help bring in some much-needed donations leading up to, and during, the busy holiday season. They’re hoping eligible donors in Chilliwack will join them in donating blood on Nov. 20 and beyond.
Michelle Dunn — lead with Team Wark, a Chilliwack-based women’s curling team — works in the lab at Chilliwack General Hospital (CGH) where she deals directly with CBS and patients in need of blood.
“I’m the one who finds out what blood group the patients are and finds something that’s compatible to give them,” says Dunn, medical laboratory technologist at CGH. “We have a standing order based on our numbers, population, and what our need is.”
Although CGH gets blood three times a week from CBS, Dunn often notices there’s a shortage of units. She sees firsthand CBS’s need for more blood. Tragedies happen and there can always be a sudden need for more blood on top of their regular supply.
“This summer, we had a huge problem with O-negative — if I ordered 10 O-negs, they would send me three,” says Dunn.
Unfortunately, lower blood donations are common in the summer months of July and August, and the weeks around Christmastime. It’s a double whammy for CBS as these three months bring in the fewest donations, yet the need for blood is the greatest. People are often away visiting family and friends during these months so they’re unable to donate, plus there are more vehicles on the roads resulting in more crashes. It can take up to 50 donors to save the life of one car crash victim.
Dunn says this summer she transfused one patient 30 units of O-negative blood, and the following week CBS sent CGH fewer O-neg units that it normally receives.
“That’s how you see the need. It’s not unheard of to give that many units of blood [to one patient],” says Dunn.
In an attempt to up the number of blood donations this holiday season, Team Wark has decided to donate blood on Nov. 20.
Dunn, along with skip Sarah Wark (Chilliwack), sisters Kristen Pilote (Squamish) and Jen Rusnell (Prince George), and coaches Jock Tyre and Jeff Richard (Kelowna) are busy recruiting donors while at the same time competing in tournaments in hopes of making it to nationals.
“We travel on the world curling tour as well, and we do get TV exposure… so we think this is a different way of approaching it,” says Dunn.
They are currently training for the Curl BC provincials where, if they win, they go on to represent B.C. in the Scotties Tournament of Hearts — the annual Canadian women’s curling championship.
Team Wark will be wearing jackets with the CBS logo on them, and with games that last two and a half hours, that’s a lot of TV exposure for CBS.
The team is also using social media to spread the word, and in addition, CBS staff will be in attendance at the tournaments to inform the public of the need for blood.
“My plan is to get as many curlers to go and donate blood in the communities that we are: Chilliwack and Kelowna mostly, but of course through the province,” says Dunn.
You can join Team Wark and donate blood during their blood drive, which kicks off Nov. 20 and goes until the new year.
Blood donor clinic dates in Chilliwack are: Monday, Nov. 20 at Tzeachten Hall (45855 Promontory Rd.), Monday, Dec. 4 at Neighbourhood Learning Centre (46361 Yale Rd.), Monday, Dec. 18 at Tzeachten, Friday, Dec. 22 at Tzeachten, and Monday, Jan. 1 at Neighbourhood Learning Centre. All Monday clinics run from 1:30 to 7:30 p.m., and the Friday clinic goes from noon to 6 p.m.
To make an appointment, call 1-888-2-Donate, or go to blood.ca. Or, you can message Team Wark at firstname.lastname@example.org to book your appointment.