Tammy Cunnington knows all too well the importance of bloods donors.
When Cunnington was just six, she underwent 17 surgeries and received multiple blood transfusions after being struck by a plane at a Ponoka air show in 1982.
“It was very much a life or death situation. I was on the edge, and my heart actually stopped twice in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. The only thing that kept me going … was blood transfusions,” said Cunnington said, who represented Canada at the 2016 Paralympic Summer Games.
The incident left her a paraplegic with the full use of her right arm, core and shoulders.
Cunnington was a guest speaker at Canadian Blood Services’ Honouring Our Lifeblood event, an annual ceremony recognizing donors, volunteers and partners who have achieved milestones donating blood, platelets and plasma, at the Radisson Hotel in Red Deer Tuesday night.
Donors were being honoured for hitting 50, 100 and 150 donation milestones – collectively they made 2,300 donations.
“It gives me goosebumps to hear people are donating that much blood,” said Cunnington.
“It’s really special for me to be here to put a face to people who donate. Maybe I haven’t gotten their blood, but they’re saving lives the same way my life was saved.”
Susan Matsumoto, Canada Blood Services donor relations director for the Prairies, said she’s happy to honour so many Central Albertans.
“It’s our opportunity to recognize and thank all those individuals,” said Matsumoto.
“It’s those regular dedicated donors that ensure we have an ongoing supply of blood for people when they need it.”
Matsumoto said she hopes the people who were honoured can inspire others to donate blood.
“They’re the best advocates, as well as patients who receive blood products, for encourages their friends and family to also become donors,” she said.
Canada Blood Services holds local recognition ceremonies in 30 communities across Canada from mid-April to mid-June.