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People in Pictou County donating blood in honour of Brayden Ross, who is fighting cancer

Donor Care Associate Charlene McCracken helps prepare Kristi Chisholm for donating blood. Chisholm donated in honour of her nephew Brayden Ross, who is battling cancer.
Donor Care Associate Charlene McCracken helps prepare Kristi Chisholm for donating blood. Chisholm donated in honour of her nephew Brayden Ross, who is battling cancer. - Adam MacInnis

When someone’s sick, a community’s natural reaction is to hold a monetary fundraiser.

That’s great, says Russell Borden, a teacher at Frank H. MacDonald Elementary School. But when he heard that Brayden Ross, a student at North Nova whose family he is close to, was battling cancer, he thought he’d try another way of helping out.

“Where Brayden and so many others are suffering from diseases of blood, what’s a better way than actually getting a huge amount of people to come out and donate blood?” Borden said. “It’s a very easy thing to do.”

Already in the eight weeks he’s been in hospital, Brayden’s received 40 units of blood products. For him and others undergoing similar treatment, those blood donations are lifesaving.

Borden’s vision has become reality in recent weeks with hundreds turning out to get tested to see if they’d be a match for a bone marrow donation for people undergoing treatment like Brayden is. This week a series of blood drives are being held in Brayden’s honour.

At the parking lot at Frank H. MacDonald school in Sutherlands River there was more than the usual activity on Tuesday.

RCMP vehicles, a bus carrying students from North Nova and a host of other cars were there as more than 100 people came to donate blood – many for the first time. Heading into the event there were 102 registered donors and Borden expected many more walk-ins. Sixty-three per cent of those registered had never donated blood before.

These people who were rolling up their sleeves to donate have all in one way or another been touched by Brayden and his battle with acute myeloid leukemia.

Breana Sandluck is a friend who grew up with him. She was among several North Nova students who came to donate.

“I’ve grown up with Brayden all my life so it’s just nice to do something for him,” she said, adding that when someone close to you gets cancer it opens up your eyes to the need.

North Nova Vice Principal Keah Callaghan said they’ve had a lot of students who have become interested and informed on donating blood and being tested to see if they’re a match for someone who needs a bone marrow transplant because of Brayden.

“Even if it’s not Brayden they know there are many others looking for donations,” Callaghan said.

RCMP Corp. Greg Deagle said they had five members of their detachment taking part Tuesday, several for the first time.

“We all have kids, we thought it’d be a good way to reach out,” he said.

Brayden’s grandmother Wendy Ross as well as other family members were on hand for the drive. She said they’ve all been blown away by how supportive the community has been.

Brayden has just finished his third round of chemo, she said, and is doing as well as can be expected.

He is touched by the way the community has rallied around him, she said.

Borden hopes that what’s started because of Brayden’s battle will continue at Frank H. as an annual event and that those who donated for the first time will continue to donate to help others.

“I hope that the people who come here today continue to do this because it’s a great cause,” he said.

For more information on how you can donate blood or register as a potential bone marrow donor visit www.blood.ca/donate

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