Canadian Blood Services in urgent need of donations

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As Canadian Blood Services is facing blood supply shortages country-wide, The Baron spoke with Territory Manager of Canadian Blood Services in Saint John to encourage people to donate blood in this time of emergency.

(Canadian Blood Services/Facebook)

Canada in urgent need of blood

The isolation requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic, latest weather impacts and other problems have affected the availability of the Canadian Blood Services staff donors’ attendance. Blood donations are needed every day for patients undergoing surgery and cancer treatment, people who need daily blood, platelet, and plasma transfusions, and accident victims, according to the Territory Manager of Canadian Blood Services in Saint John, Raj Damhar. However, Canada has seen a national decline in donations. 

“The latest COVID-19 wave is challenging Canadian Blood Services like never before,” said Damhar.

O negative and O positive donors are currently of the highest need.

Because Canada Blood Services takes the responsibility of keeping people with a safe and constant blood supply seriously, Raj Damhar wants to encourage students to book an appointment to donate by answering some common questions people may have about donating blood.

Who can donate and how to prepare

Anyone who is older than 17 and weighs at least 110 lbs (or 50 kg) can donate. In some cases, donors will need to meet a height criteria.

There are specific eligibility requirements for particular cases such as donors who have travelled internationally, donors using certain medication, and donors with certain physical conditions. When in doubt, people can contact the Canadian Blood Services information line at 1-888-2 DONATE. A registered nurse will answer any questions.

Canadian Blood Services’ website offers a free eligibility quiz to find out if they’re eligible to donate. They can also book their appointment to donate online.

Preparation on the day of donation is also important, says Damhar. People donating must drink at least 500 ml of water and eat salty snacks (e.g. pretzels or chips) before the donation. Leading up to the donation day, Damhar also recommends eating a good amount of food rich in iron.

GiveBlood app

Home Screen of the GiveBlood app. (Canadian Blood Services/Website)

After registering to donate, people can download the GiveBlood app, which not only makes it easy to book, reschedule or cancel appointments, but provide donor stats such as your blood type, how many times you’ve donated, and your blood statistics (your bleed time and your hemoglobin levels). Donors can also see how many days away their next appointment is if they’ve already booked. Those assigned female at birth must wait 84 days, and those assigned male at birth must wait 56 days to donate whole blood. Those who donate platelets only have to wait 14 days in between donations.

Where can people donate?

Canadian Blood Services Saint John is located at 405 University Avenue and their clinic hours are from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursdays and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the clinic no longer offers walk-ins. People who wish to donate blood will need to book an appointment beforehand by calling 1-888-2 DONATE/ 1-888-236-6283, through the GiveBlood app, or by visiting the website blood.ca. 

Why is it important to donate? 

Because there is a constant need for blood, every single donor matters. According to Damhar, “one in two people in Canada are eligible to donate whole blood, plasma, and platelets, but only one in 81 do.”

Because everyone knows someone who has needed or will need blood (or blood products) at some point in their lifetime, it is important to have many donors, new and returning, to provide for current and future patients.

The Baron’s Editor-in-Chief, Katie Herrington, an O-negative blood donor, also highly recommends donating blood if you can.

“The need is so great, and the [Canadian Blood Services] staff are always so friendly during the entire appointment. You can tell how grateful they are for your donation, and you leave feeling like you made a tangible difference for your fellow Canadians in need.”

More information

Raj Damhar is available to answer any questions and do virtual presentations with people interested in donating. People can contact him through his email raj.damhar@blood.ca or by calling him at 506-333-3252.