‘Actually unbelievable’: Islander residing with Sort 1 diabetes excited to present blood for the primary time


Canadians living with type 1 diabetes can now donate blood – and for one islander, the news made an exciting first.

The change was announced on March 15 and will allow anyone with diabetes to donate if they have been treated for the disease with either diet or insulin and have not had an acute diabetic incident in the past three months.

“Our eligibility criteria are constantly being reviewed and evolving,” said Peter MacDonald, director of donor relationships and collections for Canadian Blood Services in Atlantic Canada.

“For example, prior to this diabetes-related change, a portion of cancer eligibility, which at one point was a lifelong shift, evolved to five years,” MacDonald said.

Canadian Blood Services’ Peter MacDonald said the organization’s eligibility criteria are constantly being reviewed and refined. (Canadian Blood Services)

“Now, after a five-year window, people who have had certain types of cancer can be approved as donors. So I would always encourage anyone to check their eligibility.”

“Truly unbelievable”

Prince Edward Islander Brooks Roche made his first donation on April 21st in Charlottetown.

“It was really incredible. Donating blood is a tangible way of influencing other people’s lives,” said Roche.

“As soon as it was available, I jumped right on it. And it was pretty amazing just to feel like I was finally able to have that effect.”

I’ve always wanted to be a blood donor, but because I live with it # T1DI could not. That changed today!

Greetings to @CanadasLifeline + @ DiabetesCanada to give people with type 1 diabetes this opportunity. 🩸 pic.twitter.com/PZPtKkkv2u

– @ BrooksRoche

Roche said he has been frustrated in the past not being able to donate blood.

“There are 330,000 Canadians and just over 1,000 Islanders living with type 1 diabetes, and those are people who just couldn’t do it because of an arbitrary restriction,” Roche said.

“I’ve always had this sense of frustration because I knew the evidence was pointing in the opposite direction. And to see how that finally changes and to have the opportunity – it’s wonderful.”

Roche said the ability to donate blood is also a way to combat some of the stigmatizations associated with type 1 diabetes. (Brady McCloskey)

Roche said that as someone with type 1 diabetes, it is also important to him to show that he can give something back despite his illness.

“It’s also a way to combat some of the stigmatizations associated with type 1 diabetes and realize that it’s a non-communicable disease, an unpreventable, incurable disease,” said Roche.

“This is just another barrier that didn’t have to be. It’s kind of a feeling like I can contribute to my community, to the world around me. And I think that really affects people who are living with this disease Life. “”

That means a lot of blood and a lot of medical effects.– Brooks Roche

Roche said there are still no official figures on how many people with type 1 diabetes have become donors since the change was announced.

“Anecdotally, I’ve seen a lot of people with type 1 diabetes driven by this ability to finally make a difference, and they are people from all over the country,” Roche said.

“That means a lot of blood and a lot of medical effects.”

Recommendations accepted

Roche said he was also “thrilled” that the Standing Committee on Health and Social Development had accepted all of the recommendations it made in a presentation to them in February.

The committee filed its report in the PEI legislation last week.

Roche presented itself to the Standing Committee on Health and Social Development in February 2021. (PEI Legislative Assembly)

Roche said the recommendations include lifting an age limit for the province’s insulin pump program, providing public coverage for continuous glucose monitors, increasing public funding for amputation prevention devices and improving access to blood glucose test strips.

“When these mechanisms are in place and people have access to these technologies and treatments regardless of age or income, people can prepare for greater success and the highest quality of life,” said Roche.

“So personally it meant a lot. And on behalf of the community and all of the thousands of people affected by it, it is incredibly meaningful.”

Thank you to the members of this committee for recognizing the importance and urgency of investing in diabetes support – now we need clear next steps from @InfoPEI This shows that these treatments and technologies are available to everyone, regardless of age or income. #peipoli https://t.co/oJFDEqpzCa

– @ BrooksRoche

Since its presentation to the committee, Roche has been hired by Diabetes Canada as part of the organization’s Public Affairs and Advocacy team.

In the 2021 budget address, the PEI Treasury Secretary announced that an additional $ 1 million would be earmarked to support people with diabetes in the province.

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