BRITISH COLUMBIA

Grieving parents urge blood donation to remember fallen Canadian soldiers

10/30/2012 11:41 EDT | Updated 12/30/2012 05:12 EST
VANCOUVER - The parents of a soldier who was severely wounded in Afghanistan hope Canadians will remember the sacrifices of military personnel by donating blood in November.

The British Columbia and Yukon branch of the Canadian Blood Services has launched the Remember the Power of Giving campaign, inspired by Cpl. Darren Fitzpatrick.

The Prince George, B.C., resident was wounded on March 6, 2010 while serving with international forces in Afghanistan.

A series of blood transfusions in Germany prolonged the 21-year-old's life for two weeks and allowed his family to see him.

"He was actually conscious and talking and got to tell his brothers that he loved them," said his mother, Colleen Fitzpatrick.

Her son's wish to be returned home to Canada was granted, and he made it as far as Edmonton on March 16, 2010. He died there the next day.

Colleen Fitzpatrick said supporting Canadian Blood Services is the family's opportunity to share her son's story and to pay it forward.

"We understand the significance of the two weeks we got to spend with Darren," she said, calling that time a precious gift.

Fitzpatrick, her husband Jim and their 21-year-old son Sean have been donating blood for more than a year, with 25-year-old son Mike soon joining them and other family members in the effort.

"We've done some calculations and Jim and I have said that it would take us over 10 years to repay (all the blood) that Darren got," Fitzpatrick said.

"A lot of people have approached us and said they want to help, they want to contribute but they don't know how to do that. So blood donation is a way for them to do that, to show their support."

During November, blood donors in British Columbia can submit stories in honour of those who have inspired their donations.

The stories will be displayed in clinics and on the Canadian Blood Services' regional Facebook page.

B.C. residents can book a donation appointment by visiting blood.ca.

Note to readers: A previous story incorrectly reported the last name as Fitzgerald and soldier returned to Prince George.