On Feb. 22, Canadian Blood Services (CBS) set up its mobile clinic at UNBSJ to encourage students to donate much needed blood products.
Every 60 seconds, someone in Canada needs blood and half of all Canadians are able to give, yet only one in every sixty roll up their sleeves. Blood donation in NB helps to treat accident victims, surgery and cancer patients or people who may need blood for any other reason. Canadians are eligible to donate whole blood every 56 days.
Tom Bishop, CBS’s Community Development Coordinator for the Saint John area was on campus on Feb. 20 with a blood typing seminar. Bishop was able to test students’ blood and tell them their blood type, a process that takes about two minutes to complete. These seminars are set up to increase awareness of blood donation by getting people talking amongst themselves about blood donation. “We find it to be a very effective tool and we almost always see some students [at the blood drive] who we have typed previously,” says Bishop.
All blood types are currently (and almost always) in high demand in Canada, but there is a critical need for O negative blood, as it’s a universal donor. This means O negative blood can be used on any patient, regardless of their blood type. “This becomes extremely important in a critical situation such as a car accident when the doctors and nurses do not have time to check a person’s blood type,” says Bishop.
Even though UNBSJ hosted the typing seminar two days earlier, the turn out for the blood drive was lower than expected. CBS was prepared for 50 to 60 donors but only saw about 35 students come out to donate. Despite the disappointing turn out, Bishop says he is impressed with the younger generation’s interest in blood donation. “The younger generation are, in my experience, very interested in blood donation but it is more a matter of making it accessible to them and bringing it to their attention,” he says.
CBS has a number of different methods to encourage and motivate people of all ages to donate. Their Partners for Life program enables organizations to set a goal and track the number of donations per year. “Blood donation is not always top of mind for people of any age group,” says Bishop, “we are always trying to increase awareness for our potential and regular donors.” UNBSJ is involved in the Partners for Life program. CBS also has an online presence, using social media and regular media to get their message to the public.
Any students unable to donate at the mobile clinic are invited to give at the permanent clinic on University Avenue, open Monday and Thursday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Appointments can be booked online at blood.ca or at 1-888-2-donate. Walk-ins are also welcome. Be sure to mention you are a UNBSJ student to help the university reach its Partners for Life goal for 2013.