World Blood Donor Day on June 14, 2004

MICHEL THÉRIEN AND CAPTAIN RAYMONDE GAUMONT: TWO AMBASSADORS OF BLOOD DONATION

Montreal, Monday, June 14, 2004 - Today, June 14, marks the celebration of the first World Blood Donor Day, intended to thank donors throughout the world for their invaluable contribution to their communities and to encourage a new generation of voluntary donors to give blood regularly. In Quebec alone, an average of 300,000 donors annually respond to Héma-Québec's blood drive campaigns. Over the years, some of these donors, such as Mr. Michel Thérien and Captain Raymonde Gaumont, have made a veritable career of giving blood.

Michel Thérien, 755 donations, is eager to give more
Michel Thérien is Quebec's most prolific donor of blood plasma. On April 28 of this year, he made his 750th donation. “When I give, I think most of all about those sick children who need such blood components as platelets and plasma, as well as bone marrow transplants,” he says. He began his career as a blood donor at the age of 18 and he still donates plasma 50 times per year. Furthermore, his commitment has not gone without reward for, in recognition of his exemplary dedication, Mr. Thérien has received the Order of International Merit for Blood from the International Federation of Blood Donor Organizations.

Captain Raymonde Gaumont, 717 donations, remembers the smiles of recipients
“ If health is a privilege, then it is our responsibility as human beings to share it,” declares Captain Raymonde Gaumont, who gave blood for the first time at the age of 18, when she joined the Canadian Armed Forces. Since then, Captain Gaumont has never stopped giving the gift of life, except when on active duty. This career donor emphasizes that military life and organized voluntary blood donation share a common historical link. Her unwavering generosity and diligence have resulted in 717 donations to date.

A celebration of blood donors
Héma-Québec will also take advantage of World Blood Donor Day to pay tribute to all of Quebec's anonymous blood donors. “Giving blood is a humanitarian commitment, an altruistic, voluntary and anonymous contribution. This act of civic generosity is a safe way of answering a vital need: the survival of sick patients and accident victims. Giving the gift of life provides every donor with a feeling of accomplishment, self-esteem, well-being and a sense of belonging,” underlines Dr. Francine Décary, Chief Executive Officer of Héma-Québec. She further declared, “On behalf of the patients being treated in this province, Héma-Québec thanks all blood donors for their remarkable solidarity.”

World Blood Donor Day
June 14 is the birth date of Professor Karl Landsteiner, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine for his discovery of the ABO human blood group system. June 14, 2004 has been selected to celebrate World Blood Donor Day by three organizations working for voluntary, non-remunerated blood donation: the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Federation of Blood Donor Organizations and the International Society of Blood Transfusion. The World Health Organization is co-sponsoring this event.

To find out more about donating blood or if you have questions about donor eligibility, please call 1 888 666-HEMA (4362) or visit Héma-Québec's Web site at: www.hema-quebec.qc.ca.

Since its inception in 1998, Héma-Québec's mission has been to efficiently provide adequate quantities of safe, optimal blood components, substitutes and human tissues to meet the needs of all Quebeckers, and to provide and develop expertise and services, along with specialized and innovative products, in the fields of transfusion medicine and human tissue transplantation.

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NOTE TO MEDIA: Mr. Michel Thérien and Captain Raymonde Gaumont will be available for interviews on Monday, June 14, 2004. Héma-Québec will launch its annual summer campaign and provide more information on current requirements of blood components on the same date.