National Blood Donor Week is an opportunity to extend heartfelt thanks to all donors and partners across the country for their commitment, agility and lifesaving contributions to Canada’s Lifeline during the COVID-19 pandemic and throughout the year.
This year, however, Canadian Blood Services is also reminding Canadians how much their blood donations continue to matter, especially now.
Rick Prinzen, Canadian Blood Services chief supply chain officer, said demand for blood in the last two weeks has returned to near pre-COVID-19 levels as hospitals resume elective surgeries and procedures that were put on hold due to the pandemic.
“Meanwhile, to maintain physical distancing and other safety measures in our donor centres, how much blood we can collect across the country is currently at 90 per cent,” Prinzen added. “This gap is drawing down the national blood supply and we need donors to help replenish it by filling all available slots.”
COVID-19 has inspired thousands of people to help sustain the blood system by joining Canada’s Lifeline, including many new donors who have contributed for the first time.
Canadian Blood Services recorded a 20 per cent year-over-year increase in first-time donors in the six weeks from mid-March to the end of April when impacts from the pandemic began.
At the same time, donors and frontline workers were challenged to be flexible and to adapt to changing circumstances to ensure patients in Canada continued to receive lifesaving support where and when they needed it.
Walk-ins were cancelled as part of COVID-19 safety measures.
READ MORE: Giving blood during the coronavirus pandemic
Donors must now book their appointments in advance, answer additional questions related to COVID-19, pass additional health checks, and wear masks.
“We cannot predict how many surgeries and medical procedures will occur, but we know we need donors to book and fill every available appointment over the next few weeks and months to ensure there is an adequate supply of blood products for patients in the longer term,” Prinzen added.
Legislated by the Government of Canada in 2008, National Blood Donor Week, June 8 to 14, recognizes and celebrates donors who selflessly help their fellow citizens.
World Blood Donor Day falls on Sunday, June 14.
“In many ways, COVID-19 turned our world upside down, but it also proved that patients in Canada can still count on the unwavering support of donors,” Prinzen said. “Patients undergoing surgery and cancer treatment, accident victims, and people with blood disorders rely on blood, platelets and plasma transfusions every day. Many of those procedures were postponed or delayed during the acute phase of COVID-19.”
Visit https://www.blood.ca to book an appointment.
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