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Residents rolling up sleeves for blood drive

Seventeen-year-old Madison Fertig has given blood twice since her birthday in September.

Both times were in memory of her cousin Marshal Knowles, 25, of Red Deer, who died in 2011 from Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Now she hopes to encourage others to donate to the Marshal Knowles Blood Drive during December, the month of Knowles’ birthday, which is also when Canadian Blood Services holds its annual blood drive campaign.

“For me, I didn’t even think of donating blood until it hit so close to home. Now it’s a huge part of my life. I’m booked in again in February,” said the Notre Dame High School student who was too young to donate while her cousin was still alive.

Fertig said Knowles required several blood transfusions due to his leukemia and at times needed as much as five units of blood a week.

Transfusions hugely improved his health and he went on the earn a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Calgary, she said.

“A lot of his friends, peers, didn’t even know he was diagnosed. He was not going to let it stop him.”

Fertig donated last Monday along with other family members and friends and other donors at the Red Deer Canadian Blood Services office who heard about Knowles while they were waiting to give blood.

“I’m hoping for 100 donations,” Fertig said.

Knowles relatives and friends elsewhere in Alberta and other parts of Canada are also donating in his name.

She put up posters at Notre Dame and Hunting Hills schools to encourage young donors to get involved.

Fertig said for new donors it might help to not focus on the needle going into their arm, but rather the life they are saving.

“(Blood) is something you don’t even think about in your body. It’s like air. But it’s so important to these people who rely on it every day.”

Canadian Blood Services in Red Deer wants to collect 960 units of blood this month.

Last year, almost 1,000 units were donated in December.

Kaelyn Smith, Canadian Blood Services spokesperson, said blood drives in honour of people does help bring in new donors.

“A lot of people haven’t been touched by the need for blood. Only half of us have. So when they know someone who has been touched by the need for blood it kind of sparks something in them to come in and make that first donation,” Smith said.

It can also act as a reminder for people who haven’t donated in a while, she said.

For more information on blood donation or to make an appointment to donate call 1-888-236-6283.



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