A donation from deep within

Danette Dooley
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Labrador City couple give blood for the first time in honour of their daughter

During their trip to St. John’s on Wednesday, April 23, Nikki Bryan and Kevin Hill stopped by Canadian Blood Services to donate blood for the first time.

The blond, curly haired toddler capturing the attention of others in the room is the reason for their gift of life.

Blood donations have saved their 19-month-old daughter Peyton in the past and more donations will be needed again.

Although she looked perfectly healthy at birth, Bryan said the day after the delivery they were told Peyton had a heart murmur.

The diagnosis turned out to be much more serious. Peyton has five heart defects.

“It hits you like a tonne of bricks,” Hill said of his daughter’s diagnosis.

She underwent surgery at IWK Health Centre in Halifax when she was four months old.

“They patched one of the holes in her heart and they opened up her pulmonary arteries and removed her pulmonary valve,” Bryan said.

Watching as your child is taken away for serious surgery was “really hard,” Bryan said.

“You have the risk of not coming back out at all. It’s the fear of the unknown,” she said.

The surgery at IWK went well but it won’t be Peyton’s last, Bryan said.

“Her pulmonary arteries are very narrow again so they’re talking about another surgery, possibly within the next few months.”

Bryan said it takes up to five donors to get enough blood for these types of heart surgeries, even when the patient is a small child.

She and Hill decided when in St. John’s for an appointment with Payton’s doctors that they would pay it forward and donate blood to help others who need it.

Bryan is from the Corner Brook area, while Hill hails from Lewisporte. Both moved to Labrador City years ago when their parents got jobs in the mines.

Bryan said her family is grateful to friends, family and strangers alike living in Labrador West who have supported fundraisers in Peyton’s name.

“We were out here every three weeks last year with Peyton. Plane tickets aren’t cheap. And the trip to Halifax wasn’t cheap either. But people held fundraisers and helped us out a lot,” Bryan said.

According to Hill, Labrador West is a close-knit community.

“There’s one thing we can say about Labrador City and that’s how supportive everyone is towards others. It’s a small place where everyone cares about everyone else,” Hill said.


No collection sites

Some friends also gave blood on April 23 in St. John’s in Peyton’s name.

However, family members who live in Labrador City haven’t been able to donate, as there are no clinics in the Big Land.

Canadian Blood Services territory manager Dana Meadus explained via-email that, when the organization was created, it made a commitment to Canadians to offer a blood supply that is safe, secure, reliable and cost-effective.

That goal challenges Canadian Blood Services to make difficult decisions about how it operates, Meadus said.

Meadus said the most efficient way to collect blood is at a permanent site like the one at 7 Wicklow Street in St. John’s. Such a site doesn’t require travel time and has minimal set-up and tear-down.

The cost of operating a mobile clinic is quite high, she said, and becomes more costly as it is held further away from the nearest permanent clinic (in the case of Labrador, the nearest permanent clinic would be Corner Brook).

Now that they’ve got their first donation behind them, Hill and Bryan said it won’t be their last.

They’ll continue to donate whenever they come to the province’s capital city for Peyton’s doctor’s appointments.

They encourage others to donate when possible by calling 1-888-2DONATE to find a clinic and book an appointment.

“Complete strangers helped our daughter through some of the most difficult times in her life. We want to make sure other families have what they need, too,” Bryan said.

Canadian Blood Services also manage the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network, a registry of volunteers willing to donate stem cells and bone marrow. Interested volunteers can sign up online at onematch.ca and join the registry regardless of where they live in Canada.


Organizations: IWK Health Centre, Canadian Blood Services

Geographic location: Labrador, Halifax, Labrador West Corner Brook Lewisporte 7 Wicklow Street Canada

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