As the second National Blood Donor Week during the pandemic begins, Canadian Blood Services is celebrating donors and their ongoing commitment to Canada’s Lifeline, with special thanks for their continued support throughout the restrictions and roadblocks brought on by COVID.
National Blood Donor Week, which runs from June 13 to 19 this year, is typically a week full of celebrations with milestone donors receiving certificates to honour their contributions, said Elaine St. Pierre, Canadian Blood Services territory manager for Barrie, Muskoka, Simcoe, Dufferin and Grey. While they’re able to celebrate to an extent at blood donation clinics happening this week, most of the celebrations are happening remotely once again this year. Though it’s disappointing to lose in-person festivities for the second year in a row, it’s still an important time to recognize donors and their continued support, St. Pierre said.
“After more than a year of living with the pandemic and seeing its impacts on everyday aspects of life, it’s been comforting for us to see those donors that have come [to blood donation clinics] across the country and just continued to honour their commitment to donate and commitment to help others,” she said. “That sort of generosity has really been uplifting for us on a daily basis.”
Donors from in and around Muskoka have helped to ensure there’s a strong inventory of blood for patients when and where they need it, St. Pierre said, so the local branch of Canadian Blood Services has been in a good position for the last few months.
Throughout the pandemic, the organization has seen many new donors as well as a number of longtime donors. For some, donating blood has been a way to cope with feelings of helplessness as well as a way to help out in lieu of other volunteer activities, she said, but it’s important to remember the constant need for blood even as restrictions begin to ease across the province. Between the backlog of surgeries and other patients in need of blood, the urgency remains.
“As things start to open up, of course we want to just remind people that we’re still here and the donations are still needed every day,” she said. “The summer and the relaxing of restrictions might see us getting more outside and meeting up with friends and getting our social life a little more busy again, so we just really need to remind people of that commitment to come out and donate.”
Another way to help support Canadian Blood Services is by simply spreading the word.
“We’re a humble bunch, Canadians, and it’s not typical for us to sort of boast about a good thing that we’ve done,” St. Pierre said. “This is a bit of a different way to look at it: we want you to brag about being a blood donor because it will inspire somebody else.”
People often tell her about the many responses they receive after talking about being a donor on social media, St. Pierre said, so it’s a good opportunity to donate alongside friends and help save more lives. Appointments are still required for blood donation, so because of the service’s reduced capacity to collect, it’s important that donors fill and keep all available appointments.
Clinics are coming up in Huntsville on June 21, Parry Sound on June 25, Bracebridge on June 28 and Gravenhurst on June 29. If blood donation clinics don’t appear on the online booking system, it means all available slots are taken, but be sure to check back for cancellations.
Whether its first-time donors inspired by the pandemic or people who have donated for decades, Canadian Blood Services wants to express their gratitude to donors above all else this week.
“We’re really so thankful for everybody who has continued to support us,” St. Pierre said. “We couldn’t do what we do, we couldn’t serve those hospital patients, without the generosity of donors and so we just really want to say thank you.”
To learn more, or to book an appointment, call 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283) or visit the Canadian Blood Services’ website. Share your story related to blood donation on social media by tagging @CanadasLifeline and using the hashtags #NBDW, #WBDD, #BloodForLife and #CanadasLifeline, or share your story online at mystory.blood.ca.