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05 Jul, Tuesday
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Montreal Families

Blood donors urgently needed in Canada

From preterm newborns, children battling cancer, or a parent going through surgery, blood donations are a critical part of everyday medical care.

Despite the constant need for donor blood across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic has strained efforts by the Canadian Blood Services to replenish a critically low national blood inventory. Fewer regular donors during the pandemic resulted in the smallest donor base in a decade. Both Canada’s national blood donor organization and Héma-Québec — the provincial blood system operator that provides products to patients and manages Quebec’s stem cell donor registry — are in urgent need of new donors and are urging both new and regular donors to contribute.

“The number of people across Canada who donate regularly has decreased by 31,000 donors since the start of the pandemic, which has put a strain on the existing donor community,” said Rick Prinzen, Canadian Blood Services’ chief supply chain officer and vice-president of donor relations.

Since April 2021, Héma-Quebec has also seen a decrease in both blood drives and especially in blood and plasma donor centres. During the same period, there was also a record number of cancellations. But the demand has not slowed in that time. In Quebec, someone needs blood every 80 seconds, and every year the province’s hospitals use nearly 250,000 units of blood. A minimum of 1,000 donations are required every day to meet Quebecers’ needs.

Challenge aims to boost donors

To try and boost blood reserves, the organization issued the 3 x 1 Challenge: If you’ve never before donated, make a commitment to do so for the first time between June 1 and July 1. With each single blood donation, up to three different blood products can be transfused to as many people.

The challenge corresponds with the drop in donations and the upcoming summer vacation, with Héma-Quebec hoping these new donors will be able to replenish the dwindling supply. Even if you’re not a new donor, your help is needed. According to Canadian Blood Services, one in two people are able to donate blood, but only one in 81 actually do. “If you are eligible to donate, and currently do not, we ask you to join Canada’s Lifeline and book an appointment to make your first donation,” Prinzen said. “We often see a dip in donor turnout when the weather improves and people go on vacation. Patients in Canada need people to book and keep their appointments throughout the summer to provide lifesaving products, especially as summertime activities, such as travel, can increase the need for blood.”

Héma-Québec invites people to make an appointment online at jedonne.hema-quebec.qc.ca or by calling 1-800-343-7264. People passing by a blood drive or donor centre are encouraged to check the possibility of making a blood donation on site.

Questions about donating blood? You can check your eligibility by contacting Donor Services at 1-800-847-2525 or by visiting hema-quebec.qc.ca.