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Jamie and mom, with Lynn (the kind receptionist)
Philip, Kristen and Jamie sporting the blood photobomb
Felt so macho with two bandages, just had to one up everyone. John Mark and her papa also gave blood
Happy to give blood – Robyn with Johanna, Joel, and Leanne
Not an ordinary party at Canadian Blood Services on William Ave.

17th birthday: first “blood party”

By Jamie Pempengco

Growing up as a rambunctious, pint-sized adventurer, I was familiar with the sight of blood: scraped knees and elbows, a split lip, and plenty of paper cuts. I even pulled out my own tooth when I was five, to my mom’s horror. She often described me as malakas ang loob (when I wasn’t a konsumisyon). So when I found out my blood could help people, I got really excited.

My mom was originally the one who inspired me to give blood. She has been volunteering with the Canadian Blood Services for 10 years now, and I guess you can say her passion for it has rubbed off on me. I still remember the time when I had the entire commercial memorized. People got sick of me reciting, “One-triple-eight-two-donate” or, “It’s in you to give.” But despite my excitement, the minimum age for giving blood was 17. So at age 11, the countdown had begun.

At first, all I had set out to do for my 17th birthday was make an appointment to give blood. But as I grew older, I learned more about why it’s important. I learned that every 60 seconds, someone in Canada needs blood. And that one car crash victim could need up to 50 units (50 donations) of blood. Especially in the summer when the usual donors are on vacation, the need for blood is greatest. So in collaboration with my mom, I started to arrange my “B+ Day Party” (pun intended). I would have my birthday cake and eat it too, but no presents. I wanted them to donate blood with me.

Once the idea was hatched, it took on a life of its own. I designed and printed my blood-themed invitations and started recruiting my peers. It was a great experience talking to people about giving blood. I was able to do more research on the subject, as I had to be able to answer questions and dispel the myths that my friends believed.

I was surprised at how many of them believed that donating blood was a scary and unsafe thing to do. I explained to them that Canadian Blood Services goes to great lengths to keep their donors’ physical and personal well being in mind. They make sure you’re feeling well enough to donate, keep all your information private, always use new needles, make you wait afterwards to see if you’re ok, and even provide you a free snack and drink.

In the end, I had about 17 guests and a great time. But the prevailing theme of my party wasn’t in the numbers. It was why I was doing it. “Saving lives” is a good cause, but why? My answer to that is in the Bible: “This is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sin.” –Jesus (Matthew 26:28)

My Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, was the blood donor who saved my life. My goal is to be more and more like him each day in my words and actions. He gave his blood so that I could have life, and have it more abundantly; and I want to share what a relationship with him looks like through my life. That’s really what’s in me to give.