First responders are trained to deal with emergency situations every day, but no training can prepare someone for a crisis involving their own child.
When Winnipeg paramedic Kristie Keryluk and her husband, firefighter Trent Keryluk, had their third daughter the family was hit hard by the news that baby Keira was born with liver disease and would need a liver transplant.

Both parents were tested to see if either could be a match for a partial organ donation for Keira. Trent was a match, but the surgery in May 2010 came to a halt when doctors realized removing a portion of his liver could have fatal consequences for Trent.

“It was a big blow. As a parent, all you want to do is help your kids. Finding out that neither of us could give Keira the liver she needed was very tough,” says Trent.

The search for a liver resumed. Baby Keira was being treated at SickKids Hospital in Toronto, relying on donated blood and blood products to survive while she waited for a new match.

After the second potential match fell through, the family received the call they’d been waiting for that summer—a liver had been found. In July 2010, eight-month-old Keira finally received her transplant.

“When they removed Keira’s liver it was hard and black. It’s hitting me now more than ever how close we came to running out of time,” says Kristie. “Thanks to blood donors Keira pulled through—she had so many transfusions we lost count.”
According to North American statistics, a patient undergoing a liver transplant may require as many as 100 blood transfusions throughout treatment. Keira also required albumin for treatment—a product created from donated plasma, a component of blood.

Thankful for their daughter’s second chance at life, Kristie and Trent decided they wanted to give back through Sirens for Life, an annual blood donation challenge between the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service and the Winnipeg Police Service.

Each year regional emergency service teams across the country partner with Canadian Blood Services to organize donation challenges, inspiring colleagues and the public to give blood. Every year across the country thousands of blood donations are collected through these partnerships.

For the Keryluks, Sirens for Life was a perfect opportunity to share their story and become blood donors. On March 14, 2011, Kristie and Trent rolled up their sleeves and donated blood for the first time at the Winnipeg blood donor clinic in honour of their now 18-month-old daughter Keira.

“We are now life-long blood donors,” says Kristie. “Keira’s smiling face is a reminder to us every day why it’s so important to donate blood.”