How a first-time donor becomes a Champion... it’s okay to be afraid to take the first step!


College of people advocating for Canadian patients waiting for a blood transfusion during National Volunteer Week


Kelsey McCallen has gone from first time donor to TELUS Volunteer Blood Donor Champion. As we celebrate National Volunteer Week we wanted to celebrate the champions that are passionate advocates for those Canadian patients waiting for blood transfusions. We asked Kelsey to share her journey from donor to champion with us in her own words.


It all started in December 2012, I recall driving home from a busy evening of Christmas shopping, when a Canadian Blood Services ad came onto the radio with a message speaking of the increased amount of blood needed during the holiday season – followed by that popular slogan that we all know so well  -  ‘’s in you to give’.  I wish I could pinpoint what was different about hearing this ad from the many times I had heard it before, but something ignited inside me - I started thinking to myself “I’m a healthy, young woman – what excuse do I have to not give blood?”


I scheduled an appointment almost immediately, and embarrassingly, rescheduled it 2 or 3 times before I committed.  The thought of someone shoving a needle into my arm and draining my blood was TERRIFYING!  I had so many questions going into this process - how would my body react?  Was it going to hurt?  How much blood are they really taking from me?  Looking back now those fears seem so incredibly silly and small especially when you learn about what the patients receiving blood go through every day.


The day finally arrived - February 25, 2013 was my first donation.  When I arrived at the Canadian Blood Services clinic I was warmly greeted, comforted and assured throughout every step of the process.  By the time, I made it to the snack table I was made to feel like an absolute hero – the gratification that I received from the nurses and volunteers, along with knowing that the small commitment from my day could help save a life, inspired me to continue donating. 


In 2014, fueled by my new passion I took on an active role in event planning for the TELUS Days of Giving – a month-long commitment where TELUS team members volunteer their time within their communities – embodying our “We Give Where We Live” philosophy.  As part of TELUS Days of Giving, I decided to start a blood drive event, encouraging my fellow team members to roll up their sleeves -and donate.  After the initial success of this event and positive feedback from team members, I decided to become a Canadian Blood Services Champion, organizing our team to continue donating as we became eligible.  As a group, we donate 2-3 times a year, attracting ‘new blood’ to join us each time! 


Our group donations have brought us closer together as we support each other through the initial fears of donating blood. Through the joy of donating as a team with both new and seasoned donors, we gain a better understanding of the impact that our team is having to the community.


Every day at Canadian Blood Services we are thankful for volunteers and donors like Kelsey that not only roll up their own sleeves but reach out to their work teams and give back in their communities. Our thanks to Kelsey for sharing her inspiring story!