Kim Foster

Blood transfusion eight years ago saved Island woman’s life

NANAIMO - Blood transfusion recipient Kim Foster is thankful for donors like Nanaimo's Ian Thorpe.

Recounting what happened to her eight years ago still brings tears to Kim Foster’s eyes.

During the birth of her daughter, Maple, in the Fort St. John Hospital there were complications. When the doctors removed her placenta, it ripped a softball-sized hole in her uterus because it was stuck to the wall of her uterus. She began hemorrhaging.

“I bled out. When the doctor arrived to do surgery he said it was like operating on a chicken. I was completely drained,” she said. “The hospital ran out of blood and my doctor was running to every facet of the hospital trying to find, everywhere where they might have blood for me.”

Foster was put on a ventilator and underwent blood transfusions, while her husband waited outside the operating room.

She clotted on the last bag of blood.

“If one less person donated, no one knows who that person is, but if there was one less bag in that hospital I would be dead,” said Foster. “I never thought there would be not enough blood at the hospital, who thinks that?”

Foster, a Qualicum Beach resident, was on hand Wednesday afternoon at the Canadian Blood Services clinic held at Beban Park social centre in Nanaimo to witness Nanaimo Coun. Ian Thorpe make his 125th blood donation.

“What a commitment, a massive commitment, and I am so grateful because I know what it’s like to be on the other side and you don’t have a choice, so when people make the choice to donate it’s a big deal,” said Foster.

Thorpe started donating blood while he was attending the University of Victoria and said it just became a habit. He tries to make a donation about every three to four months.

Thorpe said he didn’t often think of the impact of donating blood because it’s a easy thing to do.

“You forget that it can be a huge deal to the people receiving the blood,” said Thorpe. “Hearing [Foster’s] story was so emotional … this is such an important thing we can do to help people, to save lives. It’s the gift of life.”

David Patterson, director of donor relations for Canadian Blood Services’ B.C. and Yukon region, said on average about three per cent of Canadians donate blood. About one in two people in Canada can give blood, but only about one in 60 people donate, he said.

Nanaimo is below the average with about one per cent of the population donating blood, said Patterson.

“We need to lift our donor base here in Nanaimo, but also across the country, so this is not a Nanaimo-only issue,” said Patterson.

Canadian Blood Services would like to gain an additional 100,000 donors across the country. There are currently about 400,000.

There are blood donor clinics scheduled for Sept. 20-22, 27-28 and Oct. 18-20 at Beban Park social centre. They run from noon to 7 p.m.

For more information or to register please go to www.blood.ca.

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