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Giving the gift of life: Langley blood donors are needed

Ahead of Christmas, Canadian Blood Services said supplies are tight and hope more will give
Scott Leavitt made his 26th blood donation on Saturday, Dec. 17 at Walnut Grove Lutheran Church, with donor care associate Elizabeth Ollenberger donning holiday antlers for the pre-Christmas event. (Dan Ferguson/Langley Advance Times)

On Saturday, Dec. 17, Walnut Grove resident Scott Leavitt made his 26th blood donation.

As he relaxed in a recliner at the Canadian Blood Services clinic at Walnut Grove Lutheran Church, the 64-year-old Leavitt explained the appeal.

“It makes me feel good – physically and mentally,” Leavitt said.

When he was 18, Leavitt suffered serious injuries as a passenger in a single-vehicle car crash.

“I broke a lot of stuff,” he recalled, including fracturing both legs.

“I had to have blood.”

Paying back that gift played a part in his decision to become a donor.

“I just wanted to do a good thing,” is how Leavitt put it.

He discovered that he is O-positive, the most common and most in-demand blood type because it can be used to treat any patient with a positive Rh blood type, a valuable trait in emergency situations.

READ ALSO: Langley’s Max Proske has made more than 100 blood product donations at 26

Leavitt was among 86 donors who attended the Walnut Grove Lutheran event that day, but an additional number cancelled, said Canadian Blood Services spokesperson Marcelo Dominguez.

“All appointments at the event were booked, but we had 24 late cancellations or no-shows that we suspect are linked to winter cold and flu season,” Dominguez told the Langley Advance Times.

“Donors in Langley consistently support donation events and book well,” he added.

Although appointments are required to donate, same-day and open-appointment spots often become available, Dominguez advised.

“We encourage folks to please check for open appointments on the day-of specific donation events. Donation spots often become available and need to be filled.”

A recent opinion survey found that, while six out of 10 eligible donors in Canada believe donating blood or plasma during the holidays is important, only one in 10 planned to book an appointment before Dec. 31.

There’s been a sharp decline in the number of regular donors, a drop of 31,000 since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ ALSO: ‘Supplies are tight’: Canadian Blood Services concerned about current inventory

Canadian Blood Services CEO Dr. Graham Sher said supplies are tight.

“We like to have 21,000 to 25,000 units of blood in inventory on any given day, because that gives us the agility and elasticity to meet the needs right across the country,” Sher remarked.

“We’re operating with an inventory of 15,000 to 16,000 units rather than the 21,000.”

Canadian Blood Services said respiratory illnesses including RSV, flu, and COVID are making it more difficult for staff donor centres and donation events, and for donors to keep their appointments.

Rick Prinzen, Canadian Blood Services’ chief supply chain officer and vice-president of donor relations said cancellation rates have jumped because of the winter cold and flu season.

“We’re heading into the toughest weeks to collect blood and blood products,” Prinzen said.

“Winter storms could further impact collections, and more than 25,000 open appointments must be filled across Canada by Dec. 31.”

To book an appointment, people can visit, or call 1-888-2-DONATE (1-888-236-6283).

Upcoming events in Langley include:

Tuesday, Jan. 31 from 1 to 7:45 p.m. – Church in the Valley, 23589 Old Yale Rd.

Tuesday, Feb. 14 from 1 to 7:45 p.m. – Willoughby Christian Reformed Church, 20525 72 Ave.

Friday, Feb. 24 from 12 to 6:45 p.m. – Walnut Grove Lutheran Church, 20530 – 88 Ave.

Tuesday, Feb. 28 from 1 to 7:45 p.m. – Church in the Valley, 23589 Old Yale Rd.

-with files from Canadian Press

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Dan Ferguson

About the Author: Dan Ferguson

Best recognized for my resemblance to St. Nick, I’m the guy you’ll often see out at community events and happenings around town.
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