Blood Team members honoured

Blood Team members Martha Baldwin and Sara Porisky, both ArtSci ’07, were honoured in Ottawa on Monday.
Blood Team members Martha Baldwin and Sara Porisky, both ArtSci ’07, were honoured in Ottawa on Monday.

Sara Porisky and Martha Baldwin, both ArtSci ’07, were heralded last Sunday and Monday as heroes for saving the lives of more than 1,700 people.

At a two-day Canadian Blood Services awards program held in Ottawa, Porisky and Baldwin were recognized for their work starting and organizing the Queen’s University Blood Team (QUBT).

“It was by far the most wonderful event I’ve ever been a part of,” Baldwin said. Canadian peacekeeper, retired Major-General Lewis MacKenzie gave the keynote address at the official ceremony, which was held at the Canadian War Museum on Monday night.

Porisky said MacKenzie shared his experiences with blood donation, including a story of how Canadian soldiers saved a group of injured Serbian teenagers’ lives by donating blood to them after an episode of mortar bombing in Bosnia during the 1990s.

“He related experiences from the war and times people around him needed blood,” said Porisky.

Baldwin said blood and bone marrow donation recipients also gave moving testimonials at the ceremony Monday night, speaking about the difference the donations made between life and death.

“It made not only my volunteering role more significant, but also the other roles I play within the organization,” said Baldwin, who is also a donor and an employee of Canadian Blood Services. “I wish all of the volunteers and all the Queen’s donors could have been there to see it.” Porisky and Baldwin were nominated by Kingston Donor Services Coordinator Colleen Fairholme for the award, which is given to one volunteer team from each region in Canada every year. The Queen’s Blood Team includes an executive of six people as well as large donor and volunteer databases.

“I like to think that it’s not just me and Sara, but the Queen’s University Blood Team in general [who were recognized],” Baldwin said. “We’re very unique, especially in Ontario.

“We’re one of the only blood teams that are student-run, in a university.” Since its inception in the spring of 2004, QUBT has collected 443 units of blood on campus, Porisky said. She added that each unit of blood can save three lives.

Porisky and Baldwin said the Queen’s blood donation clinics have already expanded from four beds to six, allowing more donors to give blood at a time. The clinics, organized by QUBT for Canadian Blood Services, are set up on campus during blood drives.

Porisky said the University clinics are often fully booked ahead of time and usually exceed target amounts, which she said contributed to their selection for the award.

“I think it’s because our clinics have been so successful and we’ve had such a good collection rate, because we’ve collected so many units,” Porisky said.

Baldwin began volunteering with Canadian Blood Services at the age of 15. Because a donor must be aged 17 or older, she said, volunteering was her way of contributing.

“Once I turned 17, I continued to volunteer and donate as well,” she said.

Porisky also said she decided to get involved because she was looking for an opportunity to volunteer. Although she doesn’t donate due to a fear of needles, she co-ordinates clinics as her way of giving to a cause she said she feels is important.

“People never think it’ll be them who will go through cancer treatment or get in a car accident,” she said. “It could happen to anyone you know, and taking half an hour out of your day could make the difference between life and death for someone.” In addition to running donor clinics on campus every month, the Queen’s University Blood Team works to inform students about the importance of blood donation. They also work to get different campus groups involved, including the men’s varsity hockey team and the Queen’s Medical Association.

The next blood donor clinic will be held on Nov. 21, in the BioSciences atrium. For more information, or to book an appointment, call 1-888-2-DONATE.

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