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Catholic Vancouver March 7, 2018

Blood donation 'a way to promote life': cancer survivor

By Agnieszka Ruck

Jason Costa outside a Canadian Blood Services clinic. He was diagnosed with cancer 10 years ago and has undergone several blood transfusions. (Photo: Agnieszka Krawczynski / The B.C. Catholic)

VANCOUVER—Twenty-seven-year-old Jason Costa is not sure he’d be alive today without the generosity of strangers.

“When I was 17, I was diagnosed with cancer,” he told The B.C. Catholic March 6. “When I was going through treatments, chemo affects not only the bad, but the good, so my blood cell count dropped.”

At one point in six months of treatment, Costa’s blood levels dropped so low he needed several transfusions to keep on going. Ten years later, he’s still fighting cancer and still grateful to people he’ll never meet for donating their blood.

“Just to know that someone took time out of their day, or the thoughtfulness of someone who said, ‘I’m going to give blood to help someone else,’ is really powerful.”

He said patients undergoing chemotherapy “are not able to produce their own blood at the rate they normally would be,” which makes them one of the most common recipients of blood transfusions.

“Because it’s killing the good cells as well, you’re bound to drop and be more susceptible to infections or things that can harm your immune system.”

He’s since become an advocate for blood donation. “It fits with the Church’s mandate of promoting life,” said Costa, an administrative assistant in the archdiocese’s permanent diaconate office and a former youth ministry worker.

“It’s an hour of your day, but it’s something that gives and sustains life, just as the Eucharist sustains us in our faith life.”

He added that donating blood, for those who are able, simply involves a prick of a needle, some paperwork, and cookies and juice, and “is probably one of the easiest ways we can help people to live and give them a better life.”

The Archdiocese of Vancouver became a partner with Canadian Blood Services in 2015, joining about 33 other partner faith groups, to encourage staff to donate blood. Since then, 122 blood and platelet donations have been made through the partnership.

CBS is currently running a drive encouraging people in faith or service groups to donate blood this March to fulfill current needs.

Donors interested in having their blood count toward the archdiocese’s effort can go to blood.ca/en/blood/join-your-organization and use this number when they donate: ARCH241668.