From the moment they were born, James and Oscar Grodecki were fighters.

Only 26-weeks pregnant, Michelle Grodecki wasn’t expecting to deliver for at least another couple of months. But in April 2009, her twins, James and Oscar, made their early arrival into the world.

At birth, Oscar weighed only two pounds, five ounces; James was two pounds, eight ounces. Babies born so early have the potential for many health problems so it came as no surprise to Michelle when the doctors told her that they would need blood.

“It was amazing to see how quickly this little bag of blood changed his outlook,” recounts Michelle. “I remember seeing the doctor hook up his first bag of blood and watching it go down the tube of his IV into his tiny little arm. Almost immediately my baby went from looking as white as a ghost to pink. He started to perk up, his oxygen levels increased and the doctor told me his outlook was much better.”

Throughout their stay in the hospital, Oscar and James received a total of 14 blood transfusions. When her babies were finally able to come home, Michelle, who had fallen away from donating blood when she began her teaching career, recommitted to rolling up her sleeves.

“I vowed that as soon as I was eligible to give blood again I would because blood donations helped my babies survive.”

But Oscar’s battle wasn’t over. Only days after coming home, he was rushed back to the hospital for a life-saving procedure. He underwent two additional surgeries and required more than 20 units of blood.

Today, Oscar and James are beautiful two-year-old boys. But their mother remains forever grateful to those whose donations gave her babies a fighting chance.

“I can say without a doubt, if it wasn’t for the thoughtfulness of complete strangers I wouldn’t be telling you a story with a happy ending,” Michelle says. “While he was in the hospital, our friends and family asked what they could do to help, and all I could say was ‘go give blood.’ Oscar now has a following of about 50 or 60 people who go religiously every 56 days to give blood in his honour.”

This summer, the Grodecki family celebrated James and Oscar’s gift of life during a pre-game on-field ceremony at a Saskatchewan Roughriders game, as part of the Bleed Green blood donor campaign. For the crowd of 30,000 fans, their presence served as a visible reminder of the importance of blood donation. For the Grodecki family, it was a meaningful way to salute those whose donations made life itself possible for James and Oscar.