An urgent call for blood: CFRA's Brian Fraser appeals for donations while battling leukemia
OTTAWA -- A member of the Bell Media Ottawa family is in the hospital, undergoing treatments for leukemia and he's making an urgent plea while the country is gripped by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brian Fraser is the technical producer for Newstalk 580 CFRA's "The Morning Rush with Bill Carroll" but he's been on leave following his cancer diagnosis.
Brian recently returned to the hospital to undergo a new round of treatments.
"The cancer has gotten stronger. It's not about managing anymore, it's about cure," he said in a video posted to Twitter over the weekend.
Brian is using his platform to remind Canadians that blood donations are still needed, even during this time of self-isolation and physical distancing.
Speaking with CTV's Chief News Anchor Lisa LaFlamme Monday, Brian said the need for blood is always there.
"The thing about donating blood is that, even without this virus going on, it's one of those things that's always needed," he said. "Cancer patients, people who have been in a car accident, they always need it. To have numbers that probably weren't high enough, in terms of donations in general, plummet because people are afraid that it's not safe or that it's not something they should bother worrying about, it really puts it in a very, very crucial light when you need blood and platelets every day to live."
Canadian Blood Services says enhanced measures are in place for all blood donors, including increased cleaning, chairs in waiting areas and donation areas being placed at least two metres apart, and active wellness screening at entrances to buildings and venues where blood can be donated.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created new rules in hospitals for visitors, meaning Brian's family has not been able to visit. Similar stories are playing out across Canada as hospitals aim to protect not only their patients, but their workers as well.
"It's terrible," Brian said, referring to being isolated in his hospital room. "This past weekend we were hoping to celebrate my dad's birthday. Instead, they dropped off some things here for me. I didn't get to see them. I can't go down and say, 'Hey, good to see you. Stay safe,'" he said. "Thankfully we can communicate by Face Time or text. We're in constant contact, but not having them there to put a hand on my shoulder during a tough procedure, it's the worst kind of torture. It's awful."
Still, despite the isolation, he says hospital staff have been wonderful.
"They're taking things very seriously," he said. "It's reassuring, as a patient. These nurses and doctors are just the best of the best."
For those who continue to ignore the suggestions and even orders to maintain physical distancing, Brian had a plain message: "Get with the program."
"It's not a joke," he said. "Try to picture yourself going through the worst thing you could be going through and not even being able to have your mom there, or your dad there, or any of your friends there and being truly alone. Then get back and talk to me and see if you can handle a couple days inside with Netflix and some video games. I think you can handle it."
He reiterated his message to donate blood.
"If you donate blood you're directly helping me. You could be saving my life directly," he said. "Donate blood. It's totally safe to do so."
You can book an appointment to donate blood right now at Blood.ca or by calling 1-888-2-DONATE (1-888-236-6283).
Within minutes of Brian's interview airing on CTV News Channel, Canadian Blood Services said their website was experiencing "higher than normal activity."