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Donors roll up sleeves for blood drive – Toronto Sun

[MISC, Wednesday, 15 July 2009 08:43 No Comment]

Juanita Nathan said that with all the spilled blood these past months in Sri Lanka, it’s only right to give some back.

Nathan, 35, was at the Canadian Blood Services building on College St. yesterday during the start of a year-long campaign to get the Southeast Asian community to donate blood and stem cells.

"In 1983, Tamils were targeted and systematically killed, which made a lot of people flee the country, including me," she said, as a nurse hooked up tubes to her right arm to fill up six vials. "What’s happened recently, a lot of blood has been shed, so this is very symbolic for me," she said.

The Canadian Tamil Congress is teaming up with One Match and Canadian Blood Services to spread awareness that they need more blood donations because supplies are running low in the Southeast Asian community, which only makes up about 2% of donations.

The congress said it has provided more than 450 units of blood during 2008, saving about 1,200 Canadians. It is the largest amount of blood collected by any partner within Central Ontario region.

The goal by the end of 2010 is to collect 1,000 blood donations — half of which will come this summer.

"For diverse communities, there’s actually a supply-and-demand issue," said CTC spokesman Manjula Sevarajah.

"As a whole, three out of 100 Canadians donate, so we can make those statistics better."

There are currently 15 South Asian and 14 East Indian patients in Canada currently waiting for a stem-cell transplant.

"I hope by donating, the message will reach the community to come out and donate," blood donor Dushy Gnanapragasam, 40, said.

"I’m scared of needles, though. I just look the other way when they take the blood."

For the rest of this month and August, there will be 10 mobile and two permanent donation clinics set up around the city to make it easier to give blood and to get DNA swabs for the stem cell donations.

Health Promotions Minister Margarett Best applauded the campaign during a news conference yesterday.

She said everyone has seen the difference blood donations make during a time of need, whether it’s family members or friends.

"We are here to launch a vital initiative that families across the province rely on every single day," she said.

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