The Dorscht family is continuing a five-year tradition to raise awareness for blood donations, something Elmira has been falling behind on as of late.
Kristen and Nick Dorscht are adopting the blood clinic at the Elmira Lions Hall on Friday in honour of their daughter, Ella, who was born with a heart defect called pulmonary hypertension. As a baby, Ella had to undergo open heart surgery and used more than 50 units of blood.
“We’ve collected about 400 units so far in Ella’s name,” said Kristen Dorscht. “Our initial goal when we started was to get 50 because Ella had used at least 50 as a baby, so we wanted to put back into the system what we had used. But we’ve really surpassed that. And even though we’ve put back in the system what we’ve used, the need never goes away. ”
Over the past five years, there has been a noticeable decrease in the number of blood donations in Elmira. There was a monthly average of 132 units back in 2013, down to only 94 units in 2017. One unit is 488 millilitres of blood.
“Donations have really been down over the past couple of years,” said Tara Gutscher of Canadian Blood Services. “We’re hoping with the help of Ella’s family adopting the clinic that it will really bring some new folks in to donate, and help us save some lives.”
A person can donate blood every three months, to allow the body to restore its iron stock. The blood donated on Friday does not go directly to Ella, as she does not require any blood transfusions at this time. It will go to whoever is in need.
While her condition cannot be cured entirely, Ella has experienced some positive changes since last year.
“Ella has been on oxygen 24/7 ever since she was a baby,” explained Dorscht.” And this summer they’ve started trialing her on oxygen just at night. And that has made life wonderful for her. So she’s had a wonderful summer. She’s had a wonderful start to the school year. She loves the freedom, for sure. It’s a life-changing step for her.”
Not having to wear the oxygen at school has given her a fresh start to the school year. It allows her to pursue activities like bike riding and swimming with ease. Furthermore, a teacher is not required to follow her at recess with the oxygen.
This all came about when Ella was running around with excess energy in the doctor’s office waiting room.
“We were at our regular appointment at Sick Kids,” explained Kristen Dorscht. “And she was running around the room like crazy. We were in the waiting room for hours and hours, and she just had the energy to burn. She was literally running laps with her brother.
“The doctors asked if she always had this much energy, and we told them, yes she does. So they suggested that we take off her oxygen in the meantime. Because a kid with that much energy probably doesn’t need to be on it. We’ll keep her on the oxygen at night because you benefit from using it while you’re resting. It makes your heart work less hard.”
The blood drive will take place on October 26 from 2:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at 40 South St. W. There will be draw for prizes as part of the day’s activities.
“People can walk in or can make an appointment beforehand; it’s really what works best for them,” added Gutscher.
Anyone interested in learning more or booking an appointment can visit The Canadian Blood Services website.