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Laura Poelstra


“Such a simple act can really mean the difference between life and death.”

Francine Poelstra, Cloverdale, BC

When Laura was 11, she broke out in what her mother thought was a skin rash. The family doctor determined that in fact Laura was displaying broken blood vessels and requisitioned testing — which brought a wholly unexpected and chilling diagnosis. Laura had aplastic anemia, a rare blood disorder that causes bone marrow to stop producing new stem cells and leaves the sufferer with dangerously low levels of blood.

"We experienced firsthand the life-saving gift of blood donation," says Francine, recalling that Laura immediately began receiving regular blood and platelet transfusions to supplement her low blood supply. "My husband, Syd, and I had been blood donors in the past, but this was the first time that we really realized such a simple act can really mean the difference between life and death," she admits.

Today, Laura is 14 years old, and a survivor. She continued to receive regular transfusions until a stem cell donor — a New York City firefighter — was found through the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network. After several months’ recovery following her stem cell transplant, Laura was free of the devastating disorder.