(Left to right) Dr. Michael Ertel, vice president of medicine and quality at Interior Health; Gale Voyer, territory manager for Canadian Blood Services; Isabella Perini and her father Dr. Rafael Perini at the launch event for September is Health Care Month on Thursday Aug. 29. (Michael Rodriguez - Kelowna Capital News)

Okanagan teen saved by blood transfusion shares story, encourages donors

Isabella Perini, 16, survived a medical emergency last year thanks to blood transfusion

Isabella Perini, a 16-year-old Kelowna resident, has first-hand experience with how donated blood can save lives.

Last year, she was scheduled for a routine tonsillectomy. The potential complications were mentioned, but Perini didn’t see them as something to dwell on.

A few days after the operation, she began bleeding severely.

“I had a bucket in my lap and by the time we got to the hospital, it was full of blood,” she recalled of her trip to the emergency room at Kelowna General Hospital.

She had lost about half of the blood in her body. She was in shock. She doesn’t remember much.

“At one point I couldn’t see anymore—everything went black—because there wasn’t enough blood going to my brain.”

Perini recieved two bags of blood, which were donated from within the community. She went back into surgery that night and woke up in the ICU the next morning.

Perini shares this story now to encourage others to donate blood—something she’s not yet old enough to do so herself.

“Without this blood, there are so many lives that could be lost,” she said. “I’m so thankful for all of the blood that was donated.”

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On Thursday, Aug. 29, Perini shared her experiences in the lobby of the same hospital she was rushed to one year prior as part of an initiative by Canadian Blood Services (CBS) and Interior Health to engage potential blood donors in Kelowna called September is Health Care Month.

The donor recruitment drive is specifically aiming to inspire health-care workers—who often see the need for blood first hand—to become new donors.

CBS said over 100,000 new blood donors are needed in Canada this year to maintain the national blood supply and meet the needs of those who require transfusions.

Among those who rely on blood donations are cancer patients, accident victims and people with blood disorders.

Perini said nobody realizes just how frequent blood transfusion can be.

“A lot of my friends didn’t even know that I recieved blood,” she said. “There are so many people (in your life) that you might not know have recieved blood in the past or may need blood in the future.”

Her sentiment checks out when you look at the stats, too.

According to CBS, one in two Canadians will either need blood themselves or know somebody who will.

Perini’s father, a physician who works at KGH, gives blood regularly. Perini also wants to be a doctor someday.

When she turns 17, the legal age to become a blood donor in Canada, Perini plans to begin donating her own blood.

You can find out more about how to become a donor at blood.ca.


@michaelrdrguez
michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com

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