Jack Malott-Clarke, 13, of London, Ontario, has been a lifelong comic book fan. He loves dressing up as some of his favorite characters and attending annual Comic Con events.
But her world changed in 2019 when at the age of 10 she was diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia, a condition in which her body is unable to produce new blood cells and platelets, causing empty bone marrow.
Jack’s condition requires that he receive a blood transfusion at least twice a week. To date, he has received approximately 130 units of blood and platelets, but this is becoming more difficult due to an ongoing blood shortage in Canada.
“A lot of people don’t donate blood or platelets because maybe they’re scared, but you really should because it saves lives,” he said. “It saved my life and the lives of many other children. »
This inspired Jack to combine his love for cosplay with his need for blood and start a cosplay-themed social media campaign called “Suit up for Jack”, in which people can donate blood while in disguise. . The campaign is now recreated in four other countries.
More than a dozen cosplayers turned up at Canadian Blood Services on Wharncliffe Road South on Monday to donate blood. Eric Terry, dressed as Spiderman, was one of them.
“I’ve been giving blood since I was 18 and I’m 32 now, so for a long time,” he said. “It touched a lot of friends and family in my life and it’s a great cause, so I carried on. »
Terry started donating after hearing the story of his friend who had three liver transplants before she was seven years old.
“Every pint of blood saves the lives of three people, we are in such a shortage of blood, especially in the summer with the heat waves, it is really important that people give and we need it,” he said. he declares.
“The fact that it has gone beyond London blows my mind! It’s absolutely amazing to see people all over the world reaching out to help those in need,” said Terry.
“The easiest thing in the world to do”
Jack’s anemia weakens his immune system, causing frequent nosebleeds and petechiae – round spots that appear on the skin from bleeding – and makes him very tired.
“I missed two years of school because of my aplasty, I haven’t seen my friends as much and I have to wear masks everywhere I go because if I get sick it will be really bad,” said- he declared.
After donating for the first time last year, Zachary Peebles discovered he was a universal donor. He made it an annual tradition to donate blood to others.
“It’s a great way to give back to the community and it really helps someone, it’s the easiest thing in the world to do just lay there and let them draw blood and you save so many lives , that’s a great thing,” he said. .
Cosplayers can be real superheroes and save lives, says Timothy Drake, the campaign’s social media manager.
“We thought it was a unique idea to involve cosplayers. There is an urgent need for blood in Canada, they are really in trouble, you wouldn’t believe how many children have blood-related illnesses,” he said.
As the campaign celebrates its first anniversary, Jack is grateful for the support he has received and hopes the campaign will travel to as many countries as possible.
“If people like me don’t get blood, we can’t live. If this spreads around the world, children all over the world will have their lives saved,” he said.