Change in Canadian Blood Services guidelines means increased need for donors

File: Canadian Blood Services donation clinic in Edmonton, Alta. Cliff Harris, Global News

Women who donate blood in Canada will now have to wait longer between appointments as Canadian Blood Services gets set to change its iron guidelines.

Beginning Dec. 10, female donors will have to wait 12 weeks between blood donations instead of the current eight-week waiting period.

The new guidelines will also affect men, who will need to pass a stricter hemoglobin test. Starting March 5, 2017, the minimum allowable hemoglobin level for male donors will increase from 125 g/L to 130 g/L.

Hemoglobin is a protein found in red blood cells which is necessary for carrying oxygen to the tissues in your body. Iron is an essential element for producing hemoglobin.

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Canadian Blood Services said the changes have to do with ongoing efforts to promote health and wellness among blood donors. The policy change will mean an increased need for donors.

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“Many donors will not be able to donate as often, so others must step forward to fill this gap by giving blood and encouraging friends and family to make giving a part of their lives,” Mark Donnison, vice-president of donor relations with Canadian Blood Services, said.

The new iron guidelines come on the heels of other donation guidelines recently changed by Canadian Blood Services. This past August, the organization relaxed its guidelines for gay men; men who have abstained from sex with other men for one year can now donate blood, down from a five-year abstinence period.

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Fewer than 400,000 Canadians actively donate blood, according to Canadian Blood Services. One in two Canadians is eligible to donate blood, but currently only one in 60 give.

Canadian Blood Services hopes to see 100,000 new donors give blood this year alone to help fill the need.

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To book an appointment to donate blood, visit Canadian Blood Services’ website.

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