Half of all Canadians will either need blood sometime in their lives or know someone who needs it.
For cancer patients, transplant recipients and accident victims, a timely transfusion of blood can make a lifesaving difference.
Canadian Blood Services, having just celebrated its 20th anniversary last year, continues to serve as “Canada’s lifeline” – a connection between donors and recipients to keep Canadians living.
And since then, Canadian Blood Services has made sure to make their rounds in mobile donor clinics that travel to rural communities throughout Waterloo Region.
“We are always trying to make it convenient and as easy as possible,” says Emma Willms, event coordinator with Canadian Blood Services in Waterloo Region.
“If we don’t make it easier, it will be difficult to get blood. We can’t always depend on our centres in larger communities. Not everyone can access them. We have to make it convenient for donors.”
And the need for blood is especially in demand during the summer.
“The summer months are always challenging. People are on vacation so that imposes a big need to fill in the gaps normally received from our regular donors,” Willms said.
“Men can donate every 56 days and women every 84 days and we do have regulars in rural communities, Elmira being one of them, but numbers do seem to fall in the summer.”
Canadian Blood Services has a national inventory of blood available.
The service manages the national supply of blood products for all the provinces and territories (excluding Quebec). Many variables can impact the inventory such as weather, holidays or tragic events.
“Sometimes you may hear of us calling for more donors at a particular time but there’s no need to panic. We are not in crisis, but we may have just dipped slightly below the national inventory,” Willms says.
Canada’s blood supply is recognized as one of the safest in the world.
Canadian Blood Services is mandated to provide Canada with a safe, secure and affordable system of blood and blood components. Managing the country’s blood system since 1998, there has not been a single recorded instance of blood-borne infection from either hepatitis C or HIV.
According to Canadian Blood Services, to ensure the safety of both patients and donors, there are certain requirements donors must meet to be eligible to donate blood based on their donation type such as whole blood or platelets. Each type of donation is used for different medical treatments and a donor’s blood type determines the best possible donation they can make.
The service and mobile units do recommend that donors make an appointment to save from having to wait but the service does hold spaces for walk-ins as well.
“If it’s your first time or a long time since donating blood, we suggest that you take a browse on our website (www.blood.ca) as we do screen everyone. There are also some very helpful tips on there as well,” Willms said.
For example, Willms recommends coming in after eating and it’s also very important to be well hydrated.
While donating, the needle used is new and sterile. About 450 ml of blood will be collected and this will usually take about 10 – 15 minutes.
A donor must be 17 years of age or older to donate.
“We are always stressing why people should donate,” Willms said. “Many people don’t realize that we rely entirely on donors. That’s why it’s so important. They can know that when they come into the clinic to donate, they are helping save a life.”
For more information regarding blood donation, stem cell or organ and tissue donation, visit: Canadian Blood Services at: blood.ca
Upcoming Blood Donor clinics:
Elmira: June 21 and July 19 from 2:30 pm until 7:30 pm at Lions Hall.
New Hamburg: June 17 from 5 pm until 8 pm at Zion Mennonite Church and on July 15 from 5 pm until 8 pm at the Puddicombe House.