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Family keeps paying it forward

The Dorscht family will be hosting another blood clinic in Elmira on Oct. 25 from 2:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. to help give back the units of blood their daughter Ella once needed. [Veronica Reiner / The Observer]

In the past several years the Dorscht family have been sponsoring a blood-donor clinic in Elmira to give back to the community that helped their daughter Ella when she most needed it.

“The need for blood donations is always there” says Kristen Dorscht as to why the family will be hosting another blood clinic later this month.

Six-year-old Ella was born with a heart defect known as the transposition of the great arteries (TGA), which has led to need for a series of surgeries and accompanying blood transfusions. Ella spent most of her days in the hospital from the moment she was born and required many units of blood – 50, to be exact, explains Dorscht.

“It all started because my husband and I wanted to start an initiative to put back into the system the units that Ella had used, to pay back for what all the donors have done for her, because she wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for all those donors,” Dorscht added

Over the past years, the family has been able to arrange for some 500 units of blood, which surpassed their goal. Now the family continues to be boosters for the Canadian Blood Services in support of those who are in need like their daughter once was. This year Ella and her family have set a goal of collecting 130 units of blood, not just through the one-day event set for October 25, but throughout the year.

“Last year’s clinic went really well; it was really busy but then it was really quiet the last two hours, so it’d be nice if it was busy the whole clinic.”

Along with TGA, the six-year-old also deals with pulmonary hypertension, the result of the many surgeries she had when she was so young. Until the age of five, Ella had to be on oxygen all the time but now she only uses it during the night time, which gives her more freedom as a kid.

“If you went into Ella’s Grade 1 class today you wouldn’t know which kid in the room has a heart issue because she’s just having fun just like all the other kids,” said Dorscht.

Aside from hosting blood clinics the Dorscht family also run other fundraisers to support their daughter and others who are going through the same thing. Last Christmas, Ella was able to design a teddy bear for Toys R Us, which was then sold and raised money for Starlight Canada Foundation. All these initiatives are a way of the family saying ‘thank you’ for those who were generous in helping their daughter.

“We’re just really thankful for the people that did it for us, really that’s all it boils down to. You can never thank these people enough.”

The blood drive will be taking place on October 25 from 2:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Lions Hall, 40 South St. W. in Elmira. Kristen and Ella will be there to encourage the community but will also be hosting a raffle draw, which includes various prizes from Sugar Kings tickets to gift cards.

It’s a way to give back to the community, said Dorscht, noting that the blood collected from the drive will not be for Ella’s use but rather for those who need it just like she once did. 

Anyone interested in learning more about if they qualify to donate blood or to book an appointment can visit the Canadian Blood Services website.

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