World Blood Donor Day – June 14, 2005

Héma-Québec pays tribute to blood donor ambassadors

Montreal, Monday, June 13, 2005 – June 14 marks the second World Blood Donor Day. The theme of this special day is “A Tribute to Donors,” and it’s an opportunity to thank volunteer blood donors around the world for the valuable contribution they make to their communities and to encourage new persons to give blood regularly. In Quebec alone, Héma-Québec handles an average of 320,000 blood donors each year during blood drives and at Globule blood donor centres.

A Tribute to Blood Donors
Héma-Québec will also be paying tribute on World Blood Donor Day to all Quebecers who are anonymous blood donors. “Donors are anonymous heroes, their actions are a great example of altruism. This gift of life provides well-being not only to those who receive it but also to those who give it,” explains Dr. Francine Décary, president and chief executive officer of Héma-Québec. “On behalf of Quebec patients, Héma-Québec thanks all persons who give blood for nothing in return other than knowing that they have helped to save or improve lives,” says Dr. Décary.

To give blood is to give life
Some persons have over the years become career donors; such is the case with Colette Verdeau and Captain Raymonde Gaumont. Others, like Christine Allard and Jean Bourassa, have greatly appreciated this altruistic act.

Captain Raymonde Gaumont, 738 donations
Captain Raymonde Gaumont is a donor whose generosity and regularity have seen her give blood 738 times. “If health is a privilege, sharing it is our responsibility as human beings,” says Captain Gaumont, who made her first blood donation at the age of 18 when she enrolled in the Canadian Forces. Now commanding officer of the 6th company of the Canadian Grenadier Guards, the 2709 Guards Cadet Company, this mother of three and grandmother of three explains that there are strong historical ties between military life and the organization of the blood system.

Colette Verdeau, 588 donations
Colette Verdeau has made 588 donations. In addition to serving as a volunteer at the Québec Carnival, this mother of four also telephones blood donors to inform them about a blood drive to be held in their region. Since her first blood donation, at the age of 28, at the Manege Militaire in Quebec City, this Sainte-Foy resident has never stopped giving blood, except during her pregnancies. A retired tourist guide, Ms. Verdeau relates that her mother was also a blood donor. “Health is the best inheritance my mother left me. Since I received it for free, I can give it for free,” says Colette Verdeau.

Christine Allard, heart transplant
On August 24, 2005, Christine Allard will celebrate the eighth anniversary of her heart transplant. Age 39, Ms. Allard participated in the World Transplant Games in Kobe, Japan, in 2001 and in Nancy, France, in 2003. She was also a gold and silver medal winner in swimming at the Canadian Transplant Games in 2002. “Fifteen blood transfusions were necessary for my heart transplant to be a success,” says Ms. Allard, who serves as a volunteer at the patients’ committee of McGill University Health Center for persons awaiting a transplant.

Jean Bourassa, age 74, transfusion every week
Since 1984, Jean Bourassa, a resident of Saint-Raymond, has undergone several major operations that required numerous transfusions. For more than one year now, he has received transfusions every week for anaemia, not to mention the various times he had emergency needs. “I wish to thank today the blood donors who helped save my life on many occasions. Thanks to them and to the volunteers, I’m still here today,” says Mr. Bourassa, who is a firm believer in this essential link.

World Blood Donor Day
The first World Blood Donor Day was held on June 14, 2004 in almost 80 countries. This date commemorates the birth of Professor Karl Landsteiner, Nobel Prize winner, who developed the ABO blood group system.

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 September 1998, Héma-Québec’s mission has been to efficiently provide adequate quantities of safe, optimal blood components, substitutes, human tissues and cord blood 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.

- 30 -

NOTE TO THE MEDIA: For Quebec City and Eastern Quebec, Mr. Jean Bourassa and Ms. Colette Verdeau, and for Montreal and Western Quebec, Captain Raymonde Gaumont and Christine Allard will be available to share their insights on the importance of giving blood. For all interview requests, please contact Héma-Québec.