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Blood Donation By Sikh Nation Is BC’s Largest Blood Drive To Remember Victims Of 1984 Massacre

VANCOUVER – Each year, the Sikh community across BC, rally to donate blood in the largest annual lifesaving campaign in the province in remembrance of the thousands of Sikhs murdered by the Indian government in New Delhi India in 1984..

The 19th annual Blood Donation by Sikh Nation campaign has helped save over 120,000 Canadian lives since its inception in 1999.  Each year the campaign has steadily grown, and Blood Donation by Sikh Nation has become the largest Partners for Life (PFL) donor group for Canadian Blood Services in the B.C. and Yukon region.  In 2016, the campaign donated more than 2,400 units of blood and surpassed its tally in 2015 by more than 300 donations. This year’s campaign in November will include 18 collection events in major cities across Canada, including seven events in BC.

Sikh Nation donors are committed to supporting patients all year. Approximately 30% of all donations from Sikh Nation take place during its annual blood drive, the remaining donations happen throughout the year.

The Blood Donation by Sikh Nation campaign started in 1999 as a means of remembering the victims of the genocide of Sikhs in November of 1984.  In November 1984, thousands of Sikhs were killed as violent mobs targeted Sikhs living in Delhi and across India.  In December 2014, Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh on a visit to the “Widows Colony” in Delhi, called the 1984 incident a genocide while distributing compensation to victim’s families.

“The campaign is the most constructive way for people to recognize the tragedy in November of 1984.  It is designed to bring people together to remember a tragedy by saving the lives of our fellow Canadians,” says Jastej Kaur of Blood Donation by Sikh Nation.  “Through this campaign, the Sikh community in Canada have come out in droves and many have gone on to become regular blood donors.”

The campaign will also be educating potential blood donors on Canada’s adult stem cell registry, OneMatch. Hundreds of Canadians require a donor for a stem cell transplant each year, and more than 75 per cent will rely on someone they don’t know to save their lives. Patients are also more likely to find a donor from within their own ancestral group. The need for blood and stem cells go hand-in-hand.  Patients will often need multiple transfusions of blood and blood products while waiting for their match and in some cases, even after transplant.

Each week on average Canadian Blood Services must collect 17,000 units of blood to meet the needs of patients, however only one in 60 Canadians donate, even though one in two Canadians is eligible to donate. The Blood Donation by Sikh Nation campaign provides the opportunity to bring public attention to the need for more donors from diverse communities to support Canada’s blood system.

“We need thousands of new donors each year and recruiting people from diverse communities is important to help us reach this goal,” says David Patterson, director of donor relations in the B.C. and Yukon region for Canadian Blood Services. “This community’s contribution to Canada’s blood supply is very much appreciated and has helped many patients living with a variety of conditions.”

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