Two Ottawa blood doctors are leading the charge, trying to increase the number of blood donors in our region. They have adopted a blood clinic for the week, even popping in to share their personal stories of why this “gift of life” matters. 

From a professional standpoint, hematologist Dr. Elianna Saidenberg sees how important donations of blood are.

From a personal perspective, she knows firsthand.

As a clinical hematologist, Dr. Saidenberg is in her element at the blood bank within the walls of the Ottawa Hospital. 

“This right here is what I call the drive through,” she explains as she gives us a tour of the inner workings of where the donated blood comes from and what it is used for, “This is where samples come in for testing, patient blood samples.”

“This is the red blood portion from one person who donated blood,” she explains, holding up a small, cold bag of bright red blood cells.

But this 38-year-old doctor and mother had the tables turned on her last year when she was diagnosed with colon cancer and required several blood transfusions.

“I'm not different from any other patient who has their life turned upside down by a serious illness,” she says, “it definitely was a unique experience for me to sit on both sides of the desk.”

So this tour takes on significant meaning, as does a visit to the Canadian Blood Services Blood Donor Centre at 1575 Carling Avenue.

“I’m here in person to let you know how important your donations are,” she tells Kayla Spec, who is in the process of donating blood.

She and her sister both came today to donate, “We have an uncle who was diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer,” she says, “and we know he required a lot of blood transfusions and we are doing our part to give back a little bit.”

“It’s such a simple gesture of donation that can save many lives,” explains another frequent donor, Jill Frook, who is an oncology nurse at CHEO.

Dr. Saidenberg and another hematologist, Dr. Mitchell Sabloff have “adopted” this blood drive at the Carling Avenue clinic from today until next Saturday, encouraging those who have never given blood in the past to consider it this time. 

“We say every minute of every day, one Canadian needs blood,” explains Maureen Millette with Canadian Blood Services, “and yet only 1 in 60 Canadians donates blood once a year.”

Dr. Saidenberg hopes to increase those numbers, if not for her, then for all those after her in need of blood.