Canadian Blood Services representatives and local dignitaries gathered on Tuesday to open B.C.’s first dedicated plasma donation centre in Kelowna.
The site, located at Orchard Park mall, was chosen because of the Central Okanagan’s already rich volunteer blood donor base.
Plasma is the protein-rich liquid in blood and helps treat bleeding disorders, liver diseases and many types of cancer.
“The hope is those donors will move over and help support plasma donations,” said Janine Johns, plasma donation centre manager.
“The need for plasma is growing. We are not self-sufficient in plasma supply in Canada. We are at about 13 per cent of the plasma we use in Canada is donated within Canada.”
The organization hopes to become less reliant on plasma protein products from the United States with a shift in focus to promoting plasma donations.
Women can donate plasma every two weeks and men every seven days, with a process similar to a blood donation.
“The difference with plasma is we actually have a machine that removes the plasma from the blood and returns the rest of your nutrients and your red blood cells back to your body,” said Johns.
A university engineering professor, Gordon Lovegrove, 61, was one of the first to donate at the new centre.
“It’s my way to give back,” said Lovegrove. “Being involved in the community, it’s part of who I am.”
Donors can book their appointments by visiting blood.ca, downloading the GiveBlood app or calling 1-888-2DONATE.