National Blood Donor Week is an annual opportunity to thank donors across the country for their contributions to Canada’s Lifeline, and this year, it’s also a chance for Canadian Blood Services to remind Canadians how important their blood donations are, especially in the midst of the pandemic.
National Blood Donor Week, which runs from June 8 to 14, was legislated by the federal government in 2008 and coincides with World Blood Donor Day on June 14. As the impacts of the pandemic started to intensify in Canada, Canadian Blood Services recorded a 20 per cent year-over-year increase in first-time donors during the six-week span from mid-March to the end of April. Rick Prinzen, Canadian Blood Services chief supply chain officer and vice-president of donor relations, said in a statement that there are many reasons to support Canada’s Lifeline and just as many to thank donors, particularly during National Blood Donor Week. However, along with the gratitude comes a serious need for more donations.
“Demand for blood in the last two weeks has returned to near pre-COVID-19 levels as hospitals resume elective surgeries and procedures that were put on hold due to the pandemic,” Prinzen said. “Meanwhile, to maintain physical distancing and other safety measures in our donor centres, how much blood we can collect across the country is currently at 90 per cent. This gap is drawing down the national blood supply and we need donors to help replenish it by filling all available slots.”
With more surgeries and medical procedures happening across the country, the need for blood, stem cells and plasma donors will increase, Prinzen said. Canadian Blood Services is “cautiously building capacity” to meet demand by extending their hours and collecting on days they’re normally closed. Donors have shown incredible flexibility and commitment throughout COVID-19, Prinzen said, and that must continue as demand rises over the summer and communities adjust to the next phase.
Walk-ins have been cancelled as part of COVID-19 safety measures, so donors must book their appointments in advance along with answering COVID-19 screening questions, passing additional health checks and wearing masks. Canadian Blood Services urges Canadians in general good health to book an appointment, even if they can’t donate right away.
“We have thousands of appointments open over the coming weeks and months,” said Canadian Blood Services in a statement. “Signing up for an appointment next week or next month is still blood in the bank for patients in need across the country.”
Along with becoming a blood donor, Canadians can support Canada’s Lifeline by making a financial donation, by signing up as a volunteer, or by registering their intent to donate organs, tissue or stem cells. Businesses and organizations can get involved through the Partners for Life program, which has groups decide on a target number of blood donations each year while also spreading awareness.
Muskoka residents have the chance to donate blood at upcoming clinics in Huntsville on June 22, Bracebridge on June 29 and July 27, and Gravenhurst on Aug. 31. Elaine St. Pierre, Canadian Blood Services territory manager for Barrie, Muskoka, Simcoe, Dufferin and Grey, said that, on behalf of the staff at upcoming events, she thanks local donors for being a vital link in Canada’s Lifeline.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, our Muskoka donors have been so supportive, helping to fill our donation events in Bracebridge, Huntsville and Parry Sound,” St. Pierre said. “As the need for blood is rising, we are blessed to be returning to the Gravenhurst YMCA as well, allowing us to offer as many opportunities as possible for Muskoka and area donors to make this life-saving donation.”
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 or reason for joining Canada’s Lifeline at blood.ca/reasons or on social media by tagging @CanadasLifeline and using the hashtags #CanadasLifeline, #WhatsYourReason, #NBDW2020 and #WBDD.