May 19, 2017 7:04 pm

Construction begins on Canadian Blood Services ‘house of heroes’ in Calgary

WATCH: Canadian Blood Services has begun construction of a multi-purpose facility for blood production, testing and distribution in northeast Calgary. As David Boushy reports, it will be the agency’s second largest facility when it opens in 2020.

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To Brienna Ball, who suffers from the rare and incurable disease CVID, Canadian Blood Services‘ new production facility is a “house of heroes.”

The new 153,000-square-foot facility is now under construction in northeast Calgary.

As part of her treatment, the 11-year-old Okotoks girl requires transfusions twice a week.

“I can’t thank [the donors] enough,” Ball said Friday at the groundbreaking for the $60-million facility.

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Her mother, Melissa believes the facility will be a life changer for many other recipients like her daughter.

“So what does this new facility mean for Brienna?” Melissa said, while speaking to 70 invited guests.

“It means there’s a village of people, all under one roof, who can help provide life-saving products for [Brienna] and children just like her,” Melissa said.

Facility to use state of the art technology

“This facility will employ the latest in technology associated with processing whole blood into its respective components,” said Rick Prinzen, chief supply chain officer for Canadian Blood Services.

“And also the latest technology associated with the donor testing aspects of the blood donations that come in and are processed here.”

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It will handle a large volume of blood products — about 24 per cent of the 17,000 units of whole blood Canadian Blood Services collects for Canadian patients each week — according to the agency.

Architectural depiction

Canadian Blood Services

“This is going to be our second largest facility in the country — the largest one is in Brampton, Ont.,” said Dr. Graham Sher, CEO of Canadian Blood Services.

“This will be second largest, both in square footage and very importantly volume of product that goes through the facility, serving a very large population of Alberta and Saskatchewan. And on a testing basis, serving pretty much all of Western Canada, west of Ontario,” Sher said.

Melissa hopes the facility attracts more donors.

“Calgary being the western hub for this project is phenomenal — it brings attention to the awareness that there is a big call for blood, that more people do need to donate blood, and we’re going to have this amazing facility,” she said.

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Her daughter, in the meantime, has never felt better.

“Since I’ve got the blood transfusions, that now I feel a lot better and I can keep up with my friends, and I don’t have to miss school,” she said.

The production facility is being built in close proximity to YYC Calgary International, which will make distribution of blood products to other parts of the country more efficient.

The facility is scheduled to open its doors in March of 2020.

Canadian Blood Services is a not-for-profit charitable organization that receives funding from the territories and provinces.

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