June 10, 2014 5:37 pm
Updated: June 11, 2014 3:42 am

Canadian Blood Services sees five-year low in donations

EDMONTON – The Canadian Blood Services is issuing an urgent plea for donations as it plummets to a national five-year low for appointments.

“Donations have been a lot softer than normal,” said Colleen Young, a CBS production manager. “We’ve been collecting anywhere from 75 to 85 per cent of what we expect to collect.

“When that happens day after day, it just makes it really difficult to meet the hospital demands.”

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The organization says that donations are low even taking into account that they typically slow down heading into the summer months.

“A lot of it is summer gets busy, vacation comes out, kids are out of school, our lives are busy, we do understand that,” said Robyn Westbrook with CBS in Edmonton. “Unfortunately, the need for blood continues.”

CBS says that 33,000 appointments need to be filled by the end of June across the country.

“In Edmonton and area alone, between now and the end of June, we have 2,082 open appointments,” said Westbrook. “So really, the need is there.”

“If we don’t meet our collections soon and we don’t start rebuilding that inventory, there could be impact for patients,” added Young. “The patients that need blood will always get blood, but where we may start to see problems is with things like elective surgeries and things like that.”

Blood can be sent from one province to another, but when donations are down from coast to coast, there’s some concern.

“When we start to drop nationally, we don’t really have a lot of other options available to us,” explained Young.

“We really do rely on Canadian donors to come out and donate their units for us.”

As part of National Blood Donor Week, open houses are being held to show people the many ways they can help save lives.

“We have organs and tissues, we have swabbing for One Match, which is for stem cells, we also have cord blood, so new mothers can donate their umbilical cord, for stem cells as well,” explained Westbrook. “Of course, we have blood donation, and today we’re doing a What’s Your Type, so people can come in, poke their finger, take three drops of blood, and we’ll tell them what blood type they have.”

“Our blood is used in so many different ways,” she added. “Of course, any car accident can use up to 50 units of blood, and one unit of blood is just one donation, so it takes 50 people to save that one life. A cancer patient, like someone who has leukemia, can use up to seven units of blood every week for treatment.”

To book an appointment to donate, call 1-888-2-DONATE, visit blood.ca, or use the new GiveBlood app.

This year’s National Blood Donor Week theme is ‘Blood: A Family Portrait.’ And, through a social media campaign, CBS is asking people to share their stories about donating, who they donate with and why, on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #Families4Blood.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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