"Two miracles were given to my family - a beautiful baby girl was born, and I lived." - Stephanie Christink, on receiving blood


    OTTAWA, June 14 /CNW Telbec/ - A woman who has had a perfectly healthy
pregnancy can die within two hours from postpartum bleeding. Each year, half a
million women die during pregnancy around the globe, and approximately one
quarter of them could be prevented if they had access to a safe supply of
blood. Thirty-four per cent of mothers in Africa, 31 % in Asia and 21 % in
Latin America and the Caribbean who suffer severe bleeding during or after
childbirth, do not survive. The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated
"Safe Blood for Safe Motherhood" as the international theme to focus global
attention on the urgent need to save these lives.
    "If current trends continue, the world will fail to meet target 5 of the
Millennium Development Goals to reduce the maternal mortality ratio by
three-quarters by 2015," says Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the WHO."
We must harness all the tools at our disposal to prevent that failure."
    June 14th marks World Blood Donor Day which is hosted in Ottawa this year
by Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec. While Canada has one of the lowest
maternal mortality rates in the world, due in part to the safety of our blood
system, women in Canada are not immune to complications of pregnancy and
childbirth. They are some of the many who rely on the generosity of donors of
blood and its derivatives.
    However, few Canadians realize that the blood they give can help a mother
or her child. In a recent Ipsos-Reid poll, only 4% of Canadians listed
pregnancy and childbirth as one of the applications for blood and blood
products. On the other hand, the need for blood during pregnancy is not
uncommon, with one in eight Canadian women requiring blood products to ensure
the safety of their baby with incompatible blood types. Many more require
emergency transfusions following complications from childbirth. "Pregnancy is
one of those times when the life of a healthy young woman or her baby may
occasionally be at risk, and when they need blood or blood products, they need
it immediately," says Dr. Graham Sher, Chief Executive Officer for Canadian
Blood Services. "Because of the generosity of our donors, those blood products
are there when they need them."
    Stephanie Christink is an Ottawa mother whose life was saved by anonymous
blood donors. After a routine pregnancy and delivery in February 2006,
Stephanie's blood pressure slumped and she slipped in and out of
consciousness. Doctors at the Queensway Carleton Hospital gave her multiple
units of blood and blood products before performing emergency surgery to
repair a 10 cm tear in her uterus. Stephanie made a complete recovery.
    Merryl Nteme is also grateful to be alive. She was diagnosed with the
hereditary Sickle Cell Anemia as a child in Gabon, Africa-and needed frequent
blood transfusions to survive. She left her family behind and immigrated to
Quebec for studies in business, and eventually began a family. She required
transfusions during her pregnancy and during delivery by caesarean section.
Her sister never left Gabon. She died when blood products weren't available to
treat her Sickle Cell Anemia.
    These two mothers will share their personal stories and join dignitaries,
and health ministers as Ottawa hosts World Blood Donor Day celebrations at
Major's Hill Park to give special thanks to the millions of voluntary blood
donors around the globe.
    Another special feature of "World Blood Donor Day" celebrations is the
first live performance of a brand new inspirational single called We Shine as
One. Just as a star- studded cast of Canadian artists recorded Tears Are Not
Enough for famine relief in Ethiopia in 1985, We Shine as One features an
impressive ensemble cast that thanks blood donors everywhere for saving lives.
    On average, every 60 seconds someone in Canada needs blood or blood
products. Hundreds of thousands of people each year receive blood components
or blood products following accidents, during emergency surgery or for cancer
treatments, burn therapy, complications in childbirth, premature babies,
haemophilia and other blood-related diseases. The maintenance of the
collective blood supply depends entirely on the generosity of people who care
about sharing the priceless gift of good health.
    World Blood Donor Day was officially designated as an annual event by the
World Health Assembly in 2005. It has been hosted previously in South Africa,
the United Kingdom, and Thailand. It is jointly sponsored by the World Health
Organization, the International Society of Blood Transfusion and the
International Federation of Blood Donor Organizations. In Canada, it is an
opportunity to celebrate and thank the 400,000 donors who give blood each
year, and encourage others to follow their lead. Canadian Blood Services needs
to recruit 85,000 new donors this year to keep up with growing demand for
blood products.

    About Canadian Blood Services

    Canadian Blood Services is a national, not-for-profit charitable
organization that manages the blood supply in all provinces and territories
outside of Quebec and oversees the country's Unrelated Bone Marrow Donor
Registry. A dedicated team of about 4,800 staff and 17,000 volunteers enable
us to operate 40 permanent collection sites and more than 20,000 donor clinics
annually. Canadian Blood Services is a non-governmental organization, however
the Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Health provide operational
funding, and the federal government, through Health Canada, is responsible for
regulating the blood system. For more please visit blood.ca/celebrate

    About Héma-Québec

    Created in 1998, Héma-Québec's mission is to efficiently provide adequate
quantities of safe, optimal blood components, substitutes, human tissues and
cord blood to meet the needs of all Quebecers; provide and develop expertise
along with specialized and innovative services and products in the fields of
transfusion medicine and human tissue transplantation.
    Héma-Québec is 1,300 employees, some 3,000 days of blood drives and more
than 300,000 blood donors each year, 16,000 volunteer partners and 400,000
blood products delivered each year to Québec hospitals to meet patients'
needs. For more please visit www. hema-quebec.qc.ca

    About the song "We Shine As One"

    Artists who participated in the recording of the song include double
Juno-award winner Liberty Silver, cross-over classical singer Giorgia Fumanti,
Latin jazz singer Amanda Martinez, alt-rock singers Edwin and Mista D (the
Salads) 16-year-old jazz sensation Sophie Berkal-Sarbit, leading R&B, hip hop
vocalist Dru (In Essence), the cast of the hit musical We Will Rock You and
the Renee Rowe Singers. Written and produced by renowned lyricist and producer
Eric Mercury, co-produced and arranged by Juno award winner Eddie Bullen and
co-written by Broadway sensation Brenda Russell (The Colour Purple), the song
also features instrumentation by Thelonious Monk III on drums, Canadian jazz
heavyweight Bill King on the organ, bassist Etric Lyons (Kush), percussionist
Joaquin Nunez Hidalgo (Hilario Duran) and guitarist Elliott Randall (Steely

    Note to Editors:

    The tribute song "We Shine As One", and background materials are
available for download at www.blood.ca or www.hema-quebec.qc.ca

    Still photos of the event will be distributed over Canada News Wire
between 14:00-15:00 E.T.

    SATELLITE FEED of B-roll of World Blood Donor Day celebrations will be
available at the following date, time and coordinates:

    Thursday June 14
    3:00 - 3:30 pm EST (1500 - 1530)
    Anik F2 C Band
    Transponder 1B
    Downlink Frequency 3740 vertical
    Audio subcarrier 6.2 and 6.8

    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at http://photos.newswire.ca.
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at http://photos.newswire.ca. Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/

For further information:

For further information: Canadian Blood Services: Anne Trueman, Media
Relations Manager, (613) 739-2538, (Cell) 613 295-5622, anne.trueman@blood.ca;
Héma-Québec: Michel Thisdel, A/Director of Communications, 1-888-666-HEMA
(4362), ext. 318, (Cell) (514) 234-1071, Michel.Thisdel@hema-quebec.qc.ca

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