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Resumption of surgeries draining Canada’s blood supply amid coronavirus

Resumption of elective surgeries drains Canada’s blood supply
Jennifer Gretzan from Canadian Blood Services joins Global News Morning Calgary live via Skype to discuss the need for blood donations due to the resumption of elective surgeries.

Canadian Blood Services says the resumption of elective surgeries that were cancelled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic is putting a worrisome drain on the national blood supply.

Speaking to Global News Morning Calgary on Wednesday, Jennifer Gretzan from Canadian Blood Services said the demand for blood and blood products in the hospital is nearing the same level it was pre-pandemic.

READ MORE: Canadian Blood Services needs donors amid coronavirus pandemic

“Meanwhile, Canadian Blood Services is only operating at about 90 per cent capacity right now due to physical distancing and other guidelines that we have in place, so that gap is putting a strain on the national blood inventory,” Gretzan explained.

The number of donors that can be seen at blood clinics is limited to respect physical distancing restriction, and Gretzan said walk-ins are no longer welcome.

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“This just ensures we’re able to control the flow in our donor centres and allow for physical distancing.”

Health Matters: Resumption of surgeries draining Canada’s blood supply
Health Matters: Resumption of surgeries draining Canada’s blood supply

Gretzan said in addition to routine cleaning and infection-control practices, Canadian Blood Services has introduced enhanced cleaning measures in donor centres, and, as always, are advising that only healthy people are eligible to donate.

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“We ask if you’re not feeling well to stay away from our donor centres.”

Plexiglass barriers have been installed throughout the clinics and donors will be screened before entering, including temperature checks.

Gretzan said donors are required to wear masks, and those who don’t have their own will be provided with one.

Blood donations needed for dogs
Blood donations needed for dogs

The agency has been able to keep pace with demand after the cancellation of elective surgeries across Canada reduced the requirement for blood.

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But Peter MacDonald, Director of Donor Relations Canadian Blood Services, says the demand is now almost back to what it was before the pandemic began.

He says the national blood inventory started the week at about 18,000 units and the normal is between 20,000 and 24,000.

READ MORE: Saskatoon man recovered from COVID-19 donates plasma for coronavirus treatment trial

MacDonald says there’s also a worry that Canadians will have other things to do with warmer temperatures and more openings on the way.

June 8 -14 is National Blood Donor Week.

To book an appointment to give blood you can visit Blood.ca, calling 1-888-2-Donate (1-888-236-6283) or downloading the Canadian Blood Service’s GiveBlood app.

With files from The Canadian Press