On Monday, Sept. 28, Canadian Blood Services held its national Honouring Our Lifeblood event at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier in Ottawa.
If you followed along on Twitter using the hashtag #ourlifeblood, you likely heard about some of the evening’s moving speakers. Keeping with the theme, “the Power of One,” honourees learned how one person can make a huge difference in a patient’s life. Recipient speakers Aizad bin Bilal and Donovan Gayle, both spoke about the importance of donating blood and stem cells.
Aizad was only 10 years old when he was struck by a car while walking home from school. He suffered many life-threatening injuries, and broke every single bone in his face. He spent three weeks in the intensive care unit, more than three months in a special care unit and required seven surgeries to reconstruct his face. Aizad and his father Bilal bin Tanweer shared the miraculous story of Aizad’s recovery and the lifesaving different blood donors made in his life.
Donovan Gayle was a former university athlete who was shocked when his doctor informed him he had acute myeloid leukemia. After undergoing multiple rounds of chemotherapy, Donovan found out he needed a stem cell match to save his life. Donovan shared with honourees that, while he was fortunate enough to find a perfect stem cell match in his sister, he knew that there were still hundreds of other patients looking for a match. He decided to help pay it forward and organized multiple swabbing drives, including an annual charity basketball tournament, Ballin’ for Cancer Awareness, that raises money for cancer research and promotes blood and stem cell donation.
Highlighting the night was keynote speaker Dave Carroll, who shared his own personal journey and explained how the power of one voice can make a difference. Dave became an overnight YouTube sensation after filming a music video entitled “United Breaks Guitars.” The video detailed his interactions with the airline after his guitar was damaged during a flight. Within days, the video had millions of views and it became the most watched YouTube music video in the world in July 2009. Dave shared what he learned from his experience with the evening’s honourees, including how they can use their own personal skills and talents to make a difference for causes that they are passionate about.
The event was a truly inspiring night for everyone in attendance. Honourees left knowing their contribution makes a life-giving difference and with new ideas to encourage others to get involved.