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B.C. grizzly bear attack survivor calls for more blood donations

Campbell River man says a blood transfusion saved his life in 2019
Colin Dowler was mauled by a grizzly bear while mountain biking near Campbell River in 2019 and was narrowly saved by a blood transfusion; he’s now advocating for more blood donations this summer. (Submitted photo)

Four years ago a Vancouver Island man’s life was saved by blood transfusion and now he’s calling on community members to donate blood this summer.

During the summer of 2019, Colin Dowler was mountain biking near Campbell River when he was attacked by a grizzly bear. He said the bear dragged him almost 15 metres and chewed on his torso and leg before it let go when he stabbed it with a small pocket knife.

READ MORE: Campbell River man recuperating from harrowing grizzly bear attack

After managing to apply a tourniquet and biking seven kilometres with near-fatal injuries, he found a logging camp where he received first aid. He was given a blood transfusion through a ‘Blood on Board’ program while being airlifted to the hospital. He said he probably would have died if it weren’t for the transfusion, and visited a blood donor clinic in Nanaimo to talk to people there.

“He was kept alive by the Blood on Board program that’s part of the pre-hospital transfusion. If someone made a donation this summer, they could be saving a life like his,” said Patricia Willms, Canadian Blood Services community development manager.

READ MORE: ‘Bad-ass dude that took on a grizzly bear’ doesn’t let 2019 B.C. attack bring him down

According to a news release, half of Canadians are eligible to donate blood and plasma; however, only one in 81 citizens do so. Willms said a recent Ipsos survey showed 87 per cent of Canadians are aware of the constant need for blood but 50 per cent of those eligible haven’t donated “because they’re waiting to be asked.” She said there are thousands of open appointments across the country over the summer that need to be filled.

Dowler has since made a recovery since his accident through “God-awful monotonous physiotherapy.” Just over a year after his attack, he completed a half marathon and started skiing, hiking and fishing again despite his doctors telling him he wasn’t going to walk normally again.

To donate blood, visit or call 1-888-236-6283or download the GiveBlood app.

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Bailey Seymour

About the Author: Bailey Seymour

After graduating from SAIT and stint with the Calgary Herald, I ended up at the Nanaimo News Bulletin/Ladysmith Chronicle in March 2023
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