Blood donors save pharmacist’s life

Sarnia pharmacist Lamar Hanna was at work when he began feeling unwell. It was shortly after Super Bowl Sunday and he brushed it off as fatigue.

“But I knew something was weird because I don’t normally get headaches,” said Hanna, 30, who together with wife Jessica are the pharmacist-owners of Centrepoint IDA Pharmacy.

“This was really out of the blue.”

Hanna headed to Bluewater Health and hospital staff quickly determined Hanna was suffering from a rare disorder in which the immune system attacks the body’s own red blood cells, called autoimmune hemolytic anemia.

He was given three blood transfusions and when he failed to respond was rushed by helicopter to Victoria Hospital in London.

By then Hanna was in critical condition. It took two days in intensive care and another seven blood transfusions before he rallied.

By then he’d received 4,500 millilitres of blood, or about what an average human body contains.

Like most of us, Hanna had seldom given the blood system a second thought. Not anymore.

“I owe my life to the donors who helped me in my time of need,” he said. “My wife was with me and watched everything that happened. One of the seven (units) I got in London was delayed for some reason, and she said it was the most stressed she’s ever been. I was deteriorating and all she could do was wait.”

Hanna was hospitalized three weeks and treated with prednisone for an autoimmune disorder known as Evans syndrome.

Doctors have yet to determine why he got sick, but he’s feeling healthy again and plans to return to work shortly.

Hanna is also determined to raise awareness about the importance of healthy individuals giving blood.

“Blood is essential to life,” he said. “If you can help out all it’s going to cost you is time to donate,”

To support Canadian Blood Services, the couple’s pharmacy and The Co-operators, both located in the No Frills Plaza, are hosting a charity barbecue on Friday, May 30. Free blood typing will be available for anyone 17 and older.

The pharmacy is also hosting a “free clinic’ week May 26-30, offering bone density, pre-diabetic and lung health testing free of charge.

– George Mathewson