Donors praised for adapting to changes during COVID-19
OTTAWA, ON–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.
“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. This gap is drawing down the national blood supply and we need donors to help replenish it by filling all available slots,” says Rick Prinzen, Canadian Blood Services chief supply chain officer and vice-president of donor relations.
“As the provinces bring their health systems back and activities pick up, the need for blood, stem cells and plasma donors will increase. We are cautiously building capacity to collect donations to meet demand including extending our hours and collecting on days we are normally closed in your region. 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. Donors have shown incredible flexibility and commitment throughout COVID-19 and we need that to continue as demand rises over the summer months and we adjust and respond to this next phase.”
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. Donors must now book their appointments in advance, answer additional questions related to COVID-19, pass additional health checks and wear masks.
“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. 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,” says Prinzen.
Legislated by the Government of Canada in 2008, National Blood Donor Week (June 8-14) recognizes and celebrates donors who selflessly help their fellow citizens. World Blood Donor Day falls on Sunday, June 14.
If your life has been changed by blood products, we invite you to share your story or reason for joining Canada’s Lifeline at blood.ca/reasons and on your social media channel(s). Tag us @CanadasLifeline so we can like and share your posts and use the hash tags #CanadasLifeline #WhatsYourReason #NBDW2020 #WBDD.
Did you know the many ways for Canadians to join the Blood Lifeline?
> Become a regular blood donor.
> Register to become a stem cell donor.
> Give a financial gift or raise funds in support of Canadian Blood Services.
> Register intent to donate organs and tissues.
> Join our Partners for Life program, sign up as a volunteer and help spread the word.
Learn more about all the ways to join Canada’s Lifeline at blood.ca.
“There are many reasons to support Canada’s Lifeline and just as many to say thank you to donors, especially during National Blood Donor Week,” says Prinzen.
Blood donors are a vital link in Canada’s Lifeline. If you’re in general good health, please book and honour your appointment to help patients. Rest assured, even if you can’t find an immediate appointment in your area, we have thousands of appointments open over the coming weeks and months. Signing up for an appointment next week or next month is still blood in the bank for patients in need across the country.
Download the GiveBlood app and join Canada’s Lifeline. Please call 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283) or book now at blood.ca.
About Canadian Blood Services
Canadian Blood Services is a not-for-profit charitable organization. Regulated by Health Canada as a biologics manufacturer and primarily funded by the provincial and territorial ministries of health, Canadian Blood Services operates with a national scope, infrastructure and governance that make it unique within Canadian healthcare. In the domain of blood, plasma and stem cells, we provide services for patients on behalf of all provincial and territorial governments except Quebec. The national transplant registry for interprovincial organ sharing and related programs reaches into all provinces and territories, as a biological lifeline for Canadians.