Cathy Eastman with her grandson Owen. (Photo submitted)

Cathy Eastman with her grandson Owen. (Photo submitted)

Blood donations always in high demand as clinic comes to Chemainus

Residents can follow Eastman’s lead and help save lives by taking a few moments Sept. 6

Cathy Eastman never hesitates to give blood.

The Chemainus resident has been doing it so long it’s become second nature, but the importance of the cause never leaves her mind. She’s now made 105 donations over a span of 15 years.

Her continued contributions are crucial for Canadian Blood Services and there’s always an urgent need for new donors on the Island to help save lives.

Ann Chabert, territory manager for Canadian Blood Services in Victoria, points out a blood donor clinic is being held in Chemainus on Thursday, Sept. 6 from 1 to 7 p.m. at the Chemainus 55+ Activity Centre, 9824 Willow St. Eastman will be there to donate again and hopes she’ll be joined by many other people willing to help out.

Eastman noted her journey toward donating blood began in honour of her dad, who died in 1967 at the age of 46 after a five-year battle with leukemia and thus required many blood transfusions.

“My desire to continue doing so came about from another heartbreaking event,” she added. “Almost three years ago my grandson, Owen (Eastman), was diagnosed with Hemolytic disease of the newborn. This came about as my son is Rh positive and my daughter-in-law Rh negative. Owen was a very sick baby and had to endure a complete blood exchange, but with the skill of the Victoria NICU he was able to come home after two weeks.

“His story, however, doesn’t end there. After being home for a week, my daughter-in-law was looking at a poop chart now given out in maternity wards. She noticed that her baby’s poop looked like it belonged in the not-so-good category. She sent an e-mail off to the doctor in Vancouver whose name was on the pamphlet and heard back from him in 15 minutes with the very bad news that he needed to see Owen right away.”

Owen, who already had one critical illness, was now diagnosed with another, Biliary Artesia. Totally unrelated, Owen also had a procedure called the Kasia and is doing extremely well, but will require a liver transplant in his lifetime.

“I thank blood donors every time I remember all that he’s been through and all that is to come and how lucky am I to be able to give back,” summed up Eastman.

Owen attended the Liver Foundation Gala in Vancouver in 2016 and 2017. Both Owen and his doctor were honoured there.

Now 2 1/2 years old, Owen, who lives in Duncan, can ride a bike and ski and has taken swimming lessons since the age of six months.

“Thanks to complete strangers he’s alive,” noted Cathy Eastman. “We never take that for granted.”

Canadian Blood Services is urging Canadians to help meet patients’ needs by donating blood and encouraging others to roll up their sleeves as well.

“With people away or busy with other activities, there tend to be fewer donations, making summer one of the most challenging times for Canada’s blood system,” noted Patricia Willms, event c­oordinator for Canadian Blood Services in Victoria.

Mark your calendars for additional clinics in Chemainus that will take place at Chemainus Secondary School on Nov. 29, 2018 and Feb. 21, 2019.