Adam Berry looks on with a smile as his children, Sawyer and Parker, open Christmas presents at Canadian Blood Services in Red Deer Friday morning. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

WATCH: Santa donates blood on behalf of Lacombe family

With a little help from Old Saint Nick, Parker Berry is giving back to the organization that helped saved her life.

Last June, the eight-year-old Lacombe girl wasn’t feeling well at her year-end dance recital at Red Deer College. Parker’s father Adam Berry said he thought his daughter just had the flu.

After a couple trips to the hospital in Lacombe, a doctor did a blood test. About an hour later, the doctor told Parker’s parents an ambulance will need to bring her to Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton.

Parker was diagnosed with thrombocytopenia (ITP). She received five blood transfusions while being admitted to Stollery Children’s Hospital.

“It was a whirlwind experience – we were there for 11 days,” said Adam Berry, Parker’s father.

“Before we got the ER she lost about 40 per cent of her blood. She was bleeding internally and you couldn’t tell. We just knew she was ill.”

With the exception of a brief setback about a month later, she has been healthy ever since, said Berry.

Berry said knowing strangers donated blood helped save his daughter’s life is amazing.

“It’s a simple gift,” he said. “It doesn’t take very long to donate and it can affect some little girl and her family somewhere else in Central Alberta.”

With donated blood saving Parker’s life, the family decided to give back Friday morning.

Red Deer County Coun. Philip Massier dressed as Santa Claus to donate blood on behalf of the family on Friday.

Massier said the gift of donating blood is important this time of year.

“I wish everyone could come and give a little blood before we all get too busy for this Christmas season,” said Massier.

Shaun Richer, Canadian Blood Services territory manager, said donations can get slow around the holidays because people get so busy.

“For us the entire month (December) is a bit of a challenge,” said Richer. “We’re trying to remind people to come into the clinic, not to forget about us and take a bit of time to donate blood.”

Having the Berry family stop by the office to receive a gift and meet Santa was a treat, Richer added.

“It’s nice to celebrate the holidays with the families, give them a couple gifts and it’s nice to have Santa here as well,” he said.

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Sawyer and Parker Berry play with Christmas presents they received from Santa at Canadian Blood Services in Red Deer Friday morning. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

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