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Give Life

It’s been a few weeks since I finished the Quietly Loud Workshop with Kristine Nyborg and Felicia Chang and I’ve given myself some space and time to process what I was working on. Not all of it is ready to share but my assignment involving researching a topic of interest is ready to go.

Honestly, I was a bit overwhelmed when I was asked to research a topic. What topic? I had so many ideas. But I also had to be careful that I didn’t take on a project that was too big. I regularly do that…take on too much. I’m still working on setting boundaries, prioritizing projects and saying no when I don’t have the capacity. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure that’s going to be a lifelong process!

Then it hit me. It was February and my project needed to be around blood donation.

After researching the blood products Kane has received during his first two heart surgeries, I chose to donate plasma rather than whole blood in honour of heart month 2022.

The Assignment

I have donated blood six times since Kane’s heart surgery in 2019.

On the GiveBlood app it congratulates me and tells me “It can take 5 donors to save someone who needs heart surgery.”

Which got me thinking…Kane received blood products during his first heart surgery in 2013, but what does that mean? When we were discharged Kane’s medical team gave us his blood tags. And I had no idea why I needed them. 

Later, looking back, I wondered…

  • How much blood did Kane require?
  • Does every pediatric heart surgery require blood products?
  • Did his 2nd heart surgery require blood products?

I came back to these questions recently when I donated plasma for the first time. Women have to wait 84 days between whole blood donations, but I knew I personally needed to donate in February in honour of heart month. 

Which got me thinking…

  • What is the difference between donating whole blood vs plasma?
  • What does a heart surgery require?

And with that I’m down the rabbit hole of research.

My nine year old son Kane has required blood products twice so far. While he underwent his 2nd heart surgery in September 2019 I donated blood for the first time.
My nine year old son Kane has required blood products twice so far. While he underwent his 2nd heart surgery in September 2019 I donated blood for the first time.

Here’s what I learned…

During Kane’s first heart surgery, a three patch repair of supra-valve aortic stenosis in Dec 2013, Kane was on bypass for 69 minutes with an aortic clamp time of 58 minutes. Kane received 5 blood product tags and the majority of those blood products were from plasma with names like THAWED CRYO and 25% ALB

Kane’s second heart surgery was a subaortic stenosis resection in Sept 2019. That time the total bypass time was 74 minutes, with an aortic clamp time of 53 minutes. Kane received 3 tags. His discharge paperwork says:

Blood products
CPB Prime: none 
Other: albumin, fibrinogen (both from plasma)

Here’s what I now know about blood donations

  • My blood type is O Rh Pos, though somehow I’m still not sure about Kane’s
  • Whole blood donation must have been 56 days ago for males, 84 days ago for females
  • Plasma donation must have been seven days ago
  • Platelet donation must have been 14 days ago
  • Whole blood donations are broken down into RBC, White blood cells, plasma & platelets

And then I started to wonder: Will Kane be able to donate?

If he chooses to donate he needs to be 17. If he has received any blood products during or after a surgery he will have to wait six months before donating. And the big questions will his heart condition prevent him from donating? For that he needs to contact Canadian Blood Services to discuss.

If you are wondering if you can donate take the eligibility quiz. If you have a heart condition call 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283) to find out.

We would love to have you join the Wolfe Pack Warriors. You can live anywhere in Canada and go whenever is convenient for you. Here’s how to join…

  • Register online with Canadian Blood Services
  • Log into or create your My Account
  • Select PFL ORGANIZATIONS from the menu
  • Add your PFL ID and select JOIN THE TEAM
  • For Wolfe Pack Warriors that’s PFL# WOLF0090797

See you at the donor centre.

Published by Kristy Wolfe Stories

Kristy is an engaging, open, and honest Common Language DST trained digital storytelling facilitator. She has been speaking and teaching workshops on both photography & digital storytelling for 5 years. With a background in the education, healthcare, and non-profit sectors, she works with diverse audiences, prioritizing ethics in storytelling and storyteller wellbeing.

2 thoughts on “Give Life

  1. I’m glad you gave instructions on how to join the team, I also have donated blood 6 times since Kane’s second surgery, but didn’t know how to join your team from BC. I’m now on the team and my next appointment is in April!

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