Canadian Blood Services sees increase in Alberta donations after call to action

A blood donor clinic pictured at a shopping mall in Calgary, Alta., Friday, March 27, 2020. Scientists have been poring over COVID-19 data in an effort to better understand the still unknown aspects of the virus. The key to unlocking some of those mysteries could be in our blood. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh.

Following an influx of cancelled donor appointments amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian Blood Services said that donations are on the rise in Alberta.

Concern over the decline in donations prompted the organization to call on donors who are healthy to keep their appointments to prevent shortages.

“As soon as we reached out across the country and our health-care professionals and people started talking about the fact that this is something people can do to help, we saw an increase right away,” Prairie region director of donor relations Tracy Smith said.

“Canadians and people in Alberta especially were picking up the phone and calling or booking online and really filling those appointments that we had empty.”

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According to CBS, blood products have a limited shelf life and that can create challenges, as the demand remains constant.

The organization was forced to cancel its mobile donation sites and reduce the number of donor beds as health measures to tackle the spread of COVID-19 were implemented across the country.

CBS said that the national inventory is strong, due in part to cancellations of elective surgeries in several provinces across the country.

The total inventory levels of blood types across Canada, excluding Quebec, averages 11 days’ worth per type.

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AB+ is the most stocked with 16 days worth, while B- and O- are the lowest with only seven and eight days respectively.

There are still treatments that do require blood donations that are still ongoing during the pandemic, CBS said.

The organization is still calling on donors to come forward in an effort to maintain a consistent level in the national inventory.

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“For us, it’s really a marathon and not a sprint,” Smith said. “This isn’t just the next week, or the week after that.  As we go into May, we need to make sure that those appointments are filled.”

The organization is reiterating that donating blood in Canada is safe and that there are new cleaning and infection-control measures in place to protect all donors, staff and volunteers.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, CBS is pre-screening donors when they book their appointment, and as well as conducting wellness checks for donors before entering the facility to evaluate whether they are feeling well enough to enter.

Donors will be asked to defer if they are symptomatic, CBS said.

According to the organization, donations are by appointment only for the time being; walk-in donations have been cancelled.

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There are also changes in the facility to maintain physical distancing between donors and staff, including spacing chairs two metres apart in the waiting area and donor beds.

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“If you’ve donated blood before, you’ll notice a dramatic change in the centres when you come in,” Smith said. “You have to be healthy, you have to be feeling well to come and donate.”

To book an appointment to donate, you can visit, download the GiveBlood app or call 1-888-2-DONATE (1-888-236-6283).

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