You would be hard pressed to find another 17 year old who can underline the importance of donating blood to the same degree as Jaimey Hamilton.
A Grade 12 student at Royal Bay secondary, Hamilton has had more than 30 transfusions, beginning at the age of five. The three-time cancer survivor underwent her first round of chemotherapy and radiation treatment at that age for leukemia ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia), and required more treatments when she was nine. When those efforts failed to quell the cancer, Hamilton had a bone marrow transplant at 12.
“Aug. 23 will be five years since the transplant,” she said, reeling off a date as familiar to her as her birthday. “That’s the longest I’ve been cancer free. Each year is another milestone. It’s given me the perspective to totally make the most of every day.”
Hamilton has done just that and fills her her time playing hockey and baseball when she’s not playing guitar or writing songs. “The cancer happened at such a young age that’s it’s all I’ve ever known,” she noted in a straightforward, matter-of-fact way. “Now that I’m older, I want to do everything I can to take advantage of my good health.”
That included helping out at a blood donor clinic at her school on Monday, part of a grad class event organized by teacher Colin Scott-Moncrieff. It’s the fifth year a blood donor clinic has been included as part of graduation activities, and the first time it has been held onsite. There were 54 donations, with some help from the community, Scott-Moncrieff said.
He added that although Hamilton is unable to donate, she was eager to help out any way she could.
“She’s a great kid,” he said. “Hopefully the majority of these kids will realize that it feels good to donate and continue to do so in the future after they graduate and move on with their lives.”
Hamilton was compelled to get involved, she said, because she knows firsthand how important it is to donate blood. “I know personally what a huge difference a single transfusion can make,” she explained. “There’s always such a need in the community, so it’s amazing to see so many students volunteer to donate.
Kayla Williams, Hamilton’s best friend and a first-time donor, was inspired by what Hamilton has been through.
“I’m hoping to encourage everyone I know to do it,” Williams said, pointing out that B.C. has the lowest rate of donors per capita at three per cent, one per cent below the national average. “We want to change that at Royal Bay,” she said.