Not many people can say they grew up in the world of blood donor clinics. But because Brent’s mom, Deb, has worked for the blood system for more than 18 years, it has been a part of his world for as long as he can remember. So much so that on his 17th birthday, it was only natural that he make his first blood donation.

Having been exposed to the blood system for most of his life, often accompanying his mom to a blood donor clinic, he’s grown up understanding how important blood donations are.

“I grew up knowing that spending a couple of hours every few months to donate can really help people and even save someone’s life,” says Brent.

Although he recently lost his grandfather to cancer, Brent saw first-hand the difference blood transfusions made as his grandfather was going through chemotherapy and this, too, had an enormous impact.

“Throughout his cancer therapy, it really drove home to all of us what a difference transfusions make to a patient’s quality of life,” says Deb. “Even after working for the blood system for as long as I had, it really hit home. I knew how important it was because I saw it every day but to see it from my father’s bedside is another perspective entirely and it really motivated my son to spread the word to his peers.”

While attending university, Brent was very active in encouraging his fellow students to donate, using social media to remind people of the importance of donating, not tomorrow, but today.

“I tell people who have never donated that the time is now to help because you never know when it could be you needing blood.”

He made it his mission to bring more awareness to students, encouraging people to donate before class, educating them about the process and posting information on his Facebook wall.

“I think youth see it as someone else’s responsibility. They see their parents or older relatives donating and think they don’t need to. So it’s about really making youth aware that everyone can contribute and telling them that it’s a cool thing to do. Giving a few hours of your time can save a life.”

Photography by Lorella Zanetti