"No gifts, just donate your blood."
That's what a Vancouver woman told her friends and family ahead of her birthday for a second year in a row.
Anna Lin held a belated birthday party on Thursday at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on Oak Street.
Twenty-seven partygoers noshed on cupcakes, posed beside balloons and rolled up their sleeves to donate blood.
Ryan Matheson was among those there to say thank you and to encourage potential donors.
He lost his mother, Ginny, to leukemia in February.
In the last seven months of her life, she received over 100 units of blood.
"It's hard to have her gone but to be able to thank donors for giving us the extra time, it's special," he said.
'Just bring yourself and your blood'
Lin says the idea to hold a party came to her two years ago prior to another birthday when she was repeatedly asked what she wanted as a gift.
After some reflection, she said she realized she needed nothing but wanted to help others who could use a hand.
"There are people who don't even have the basics to survive, to live — like blood, for example."
At the time, she had never donated blood but implored her friends and family to join her, saying, "don't bring anything for me, just bring yourself and your blood and then we can donate together and give together."
"Because that's what I really want for my birthday."
Matheson says it's good intentions like Lin's that kept his mother alive long enough for some "bonus time" with the family.
The transfusions gave them another Christmas and for her to see several of her grandchildren turn another year older, including the youngest who is five.
"What it meant for us, is that he got an extra year," he said through tears. "He now remembers her for who she was."
Lin was moved after hearing Matheson's story.
"We never get to meet the people who receive the blood ... it definitely encourages me to give more," she said.
With files from Vivian Luk and David Horemans