By Jinsh Rayaroth
It was in 2008, Sara Thomas, a housewife in India, was cooking in her kitchen with LPG, liquefied petroleum gas, when there was an accident.
She was rushed to the hospital and was in intensive care with burns to 85 per cent of her body. She was in the hospital for five months, and over the course of her treatment, she needed several blood transfusions. Her son Jackson Thomas was so worried that he could not find enough blood donors for his mother in the hospital. Unlike in Canada and many other countries, it was the patients’ responsibility to find blood donors.
After massive efforts, Thomas managed to get the donors to save his mother’s life. After five months of hospital stay, his mother was discharged from the hospital and is doing well now in India.
The trauma stayed with him. When he came to Canada in 2015, he brought with him a determination to make a difference. He is now a well-known person among Blood Services Canada facilities across Scarborough and Durham region. Thomas donates blood regularly and inspires and motivates a whole community to do so.
“The reason I started donating blood is my mother’s accident”, says Thomas. His mother’s accident made him a philanthropist and a hero in the local community.
Usually, he brings some more people with him to donate blood whenever he goes. That makes a substantial positive impact on the community. Thomas says, “A couple of donations I did myself, then I realized that I have good relations in my community so that I can get a couple of more people to do that.” So gradually, that number kept growing to 10-15, and now it’s a charity.
“It is impossible to explain how important someone like Jackson is,” says Jennifer Mathieu, Territory Manager at Blood Services Canada. “Without people like Jackson, our reach would be very short,” Mathieu added.
But like Jackson, there is a story behind Mathieu’s association with Blood Services Canada. It isn’t random work she decided to do. “Seven years ago, my husband was diagnosed with blood cancer. It was extreme. It was very sudden, and immediately he required many transfusions”, she said. With utmost gratitude, she remembers all the blood donors for her husband.
“After that incident, I decided to make a change in my life. I resigned from customer services which I have been doing for over 20 years.” That’s how she decided to give back to the same community that once helped her when she needed it the most.
What the numbers suggest
As per Blood Services Canada data, more than 4.5 million people need blood transfusion each year in the United States and Canada. That’s why people like Thomas are a hero.
Thomas wants to work with law enforcement. He is getting ready to move to Prince George, B.C., as he got a job in one of the law enforcement offices. He is not leaving behind his commitment to donate blood. “I know that as a law enforcement officer, it’s a major part that you need to give back to the community…helping people”, Jackson says.
However, he is a bit worried because he could not find any Blood Services Canada locations in Prince George. That may affect his plan to become a stem cell donor.
Mathieu appreciates the kind of work Jackson does for the community and nation. But blood recipients are the ones who know the importance of the lifesaving work he does. Because as Jennifer says, “It has no dollar value…but it is the most precious thing you can do”.