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Colin, Tom and Brendan Macdonald, left to right, are now organizing their third Pint 4 Pint blood drive in honour of Lise Anne Bourgeois, who passed away in April after an 18-year battle with cancer.

JENNIFER ROBERTS/The Globe and Mail

The Donors: The Macdonald family

The Gift: Creating Pint 4 Pint

The Reason: To encourage people to donate blood

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When Lise Anne Bourgeois' breast cancer metastasized to her lower spine a few years ago, she faced a harrowing round of radiation that damaged her colon and prompted internal bleeding.

She spent weeks in Toronto's Princess Margaret Hospital, getting as many as three blood transfusions a week at times. It was during one of those sessions that her husband, Tom Macdonald, noticed a group of people donating blood.

"I realized that there were all of these wonderful people donating blood anonymously and without any interest into who was receiving it. It just made me and my kids think we should return the favour," said Mr. Macdonald, a lawyer with Goodmans LLP in Toronto.

Together with sons Colin and Brendan and Canadian Blood Services, Mr. Macdonald organized Return the Favour, a day-long blood donation event followed by a party at a local pub. The first event, in March, 2011, attracted 200 people.

The family renamed it Pint 4 Pint the following year and about 300 people donated more than 50 pints of blood.

Ms. Bourgeois had surgery on her colon to address the problem but the cancer kept spreading. She died on April 12, 2012. She was 58 and had been living with cancer for 18 years.

Mr. Macdonald and his sons plan to keep the blood drive going in her memory and they are already working on next year's Pint 4 Pint.

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They have also raised more than $30,000 for other cancer charities.

"The blood drive is particularly important to us because it is a cause that doesn't get the same kind of play as cancer for example," he said.

"It is a unique way of giving back. One donated pint benefits three people."

There's another reason to keep doing the event.

"It's a way of honouring Lise Anne's memory," he added. "And it's a way of giving back for all of the care that she received."

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