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RDP athletics roll up their sleeves for a good cause

The school held their third annual campaign
Red Deer Polytechnic athletes donated blood in January to the Canadian Blood Service for the school’s third annual Bleed Green Campaign. (Photo by Red Deer Polytechnic Athletics)

Red Deer Polytechnic’s Student-Athletes Advisory Council did its part in donating blood to those in need last month.

From Jan. 14-31, the Council teamed up with Canadian Blood Services for the school’s third annual Bleed Green Campaign.

During the 17-day campaign, RDP athletes encouraged their family and friends, as well as other community members to donate blood and support Canadian Blood Services.

“This type of large-scale support from the student-athletes of RDP means that a larger number of patients across Canada receive the blood and blood product they need,” said Shamus Neeson, a Canadian Blood Services representative in a media release.

“Every minute of every day someone in Canada will need some blood. Even though one out of two Canadians can donate blood, one in 81 do. The more support we receive from the Red Deer community, the more people we can help.”

With a goal of 233 blood donations, 25 people rolled up their sleeves during the campaign which helped donate 1,171 units of blood at the Red Deer donation centre. This led to 105 new people heading to the centre to donate more units.

RDP Queens volleyball head coach Talbot Walton spoke on the importance of donating blood but also to sign up to become an organ or tissue donor.

Walton has a personal connection to the cause after he was diagnosed with a rare bile disease called Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis back in the year 2000.

It is a rare blood disease that can lead to deterioration of the liver or even liver failure. He received a liver transplant in 2017 and again in 2021.

“Sitting at the kitchen table, my mom explained what it meant to be an organ donor, and I remember thinking how strange it would be for my body parts to be used for donation,” he said in a media release.

“I eventually signed my donor card, never ever suspecting that I would be a person in need of a transplant.”

Unfortunately, the transplant process is longer than one might assume. Walton waited 15 years but had to wait to be deemed sick enough to be placed on a waitlist.

“On one hand I do not want to get sicker as I felt terrible already. On the other hand, the doctors told me I needed to get sicker, so I ended up waiting to get even sicker,” Walton explained.

”By this time, I probably had 12 months to live and had to continue to get sicker to move up the list.”

He eventually got his transplant and was thankful to the medical system for finding him a liver and helping him through his recovery. His love for volleyball was also a big part of his recovery.

“I would coach myself to work harder, embrace the process, keep on trying until I got it correct, and use the team as a support system. So many volleyball lessons, and members of the team helped me stay strong during the process.”

Ian Gustafson

About the Author: Ian Gustafson

Ian began his journalism career as a reporter in Prince Albert, Sask. for the last three years, and was born and raised in Saskatchewan.
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