Montreal Chapter Partners with Héma-Québec on Blood Drive

Posted May 20th, 2014 by webadmin

by Juliana Pavelka-Johnston, Regional Organizer, Montreal Chapter

Blood Drive General photoThe Montreal Chapter of the Canadian Hemochromatosis Society kicked off May awareness month in partnership with Héma-Québec and had a Blood Drive.  This took place May 2nd, at Les Galeries des Sources from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.  We encouraged our community to give blood generously and indeed we had a successful event.

Volunteers from the Montreal chapter of the CHS were present to greet the public, and we also had very experienced volunteers from Hema-Quebec to help lend the CHS a hand at this event.

The posters were received a few weeks before from Héma-Québec, in good time, to display throughout the neighborhood in Dollard des Ormeaux.  This location was chosen as it connects easily with the highways, and this busy shopping center has much traffic day and evening.  The main posters were put up the day of the blood drive to assure the public will safely find their way to participate in this event.  The feedback that I received from a blood donor, was that of appreciation in knowing beforehand of the blood drive, because his intent was to donate blood and this helped him pencil it into his schedule.

I have many angels that helped the Montreal Chapter to advertise this event.  Sharon Robillard, one of the Montreal Chapter volunteers, who even has experience volunteering for Héma-Québec, helped to get the word out to the public by sharing the news with our other angel, Mike Cohen of the Suburban Newspaper, who promptly placed the notification of the blood drive in the calendar of events.

The notifications were administered with our head office in B.C, Brenda Ohara, who is in charge of our organization’s Facebook, LinkedIn, and other communications to assure this event is well communicated to the general public, and members with the Canadian Hemochromatosis Association.  I spread the news word of mouth and networked with my Facebook friends, in an effort to have people come and join us.

Mike Sung

Volunteer Mike Sung

I’m pleased to say that the notices and flyers that were printed were warmly accepted at St. Tropaz Dance Studio, Monster Gym, and around the vicinity of this blood drive, especially at Les Galeries des Sources.

Our Montreal Chapter volunteer Mike Sung, was another angel that without hesitation, after he finished his work at the Royal Victoria Hospital,
hopped a taxi and made it to the west island. Mike has been diligently helping the Montreal Chapter for two years now. He was there helping out at all of our presentations on hemochromatosis, at the Royal Victoria Hospital.  He now works at the Royal Vic in the lab, and is always there to lend a hand to the CHS. This day he greeted the donors, as you can see with his pleasant and cheerful smile.

Donna Lessard, Juliana Pavelka-Johnston, Diane Pilon

Héma-Québec volunteers Donna Lessard and Diane Pilon gather around CHS Montreal Chapter Regional Organizer Juliana Pavelka-Johnston

Héma-Québec has an amazing system, with very professional people, dedicated at offering their best to our community. Their nurses, are calm, easy to talk to, and very focused on you when you give blood, to assure with meticulous precision.  They make sure you are securely installed in your cot comfortably, and that the time you pass donating blood is a favorable experience.  It is for this very reason that it is important to have volunteers too, as they assure that there are extra hands available to assist in seeing to our community of people who donate blood.  The volunteers are there to watch over you to make sure that people feel well, are ok to walk over to the snack table, and take the time to chat with you.  I feel very humble to have participated with this group of people who all together with the public made this event successful.

France Boutin, Héma-Québec’s Blood Drives Counselor, her assistant Louise, our Supervisor Dominique, and Genvieve Myhal Ph.D.  all played a pivotal role in assuring this drive goes off well.  We were also joined by Hema-Quebec’s Sylvain, and I must mention thank you to volunteers: Diane Pilon, Donna Lassard, Aldo Fueco, Victor Romani, Keith Johnston, and Stephanie Pugh who came after work to help out, and helped me with removing the posters from the premises after the blood drive.

During the day we were busy, as we received people at a very steady pace to give blood.  A good start for this first big event for the Montreal CHS Blood Drive General photo 2chapter.  The evening was also steady as after supper time, we had more volunteers and we topped off the event with 90 participants for our very first Hemochromatosis & Héma-Québec Blood Drive.  Going forward the Montreal chapter hopes that this relationship will grow and we will be able to partner up and do more blood drives together.

Hereditary hemochromatosis (HHC) is the genetic disposition where the body absorbs too much iron from dietary sources. The excess iron cannot be eliminated, and as such, the buildup of Iron deposits in the tissues, joints, organs, heart, and endocrine glands. It can cause significant suffering and some of the diseases related to HHC can be potentially fatal. Some of the diseases and symptoms are: Arthritis, Type II Diabetes, cirrhosis, jaundice, cancers, heart arrhythmia, cardiomyopathy, thyroid problems, and personality changes such as mood swings, anger, and depression.

Most of the complications are preventable with early testing.  Treatment consists of a series of therapeutic phlebotomies (venesection or bloodletting), similar to regular blood donations, only more often. The removal of blood forces the body to restore lost blood. Red blood cells are necessary for the creation of new blood, and iron is an essential ingredient for new blood cells. Blood drawn during this de-ironing phase is currently discarded.   Once healthy body iron levels are achieved, less frequent therapeutic phlebotomies are performed for life. During this phase of treatment, the blood may be donated to Héma-Québec if the donor meets eligibility requirements.  With consistent monitoring and properly timed phlebotomies, HHC patients can live a normal, healthy life if no irreversible damage has occurred.