Canadian Blood Services is calling for more blood donations during National Blood Donor Week in response to a decrease in donors throughout the pandemic. World Blood Donor Day falls on June 14.
In a June 13 media release, the organization said it needs 100,000 new donors this year to give blood, plasma or platelets.
Canadian Blood Services territory manager Tianna Doyle said in an interview from Edmonton the donor base has decreased by 31,000 since the pandemic began.
“Right now our donor base is the smallest that it’s ever been in the past decade so we are asking anybody who hasn’t donated, or if say you haven’t donated in the past few years, to please visit us at blood.ca and book that life saving appointment,” she said.
Doyle said COVID-19 has affected the number of donors due to illnesses, people being deferred for travel, isolation requirements and limitations on in-person donor recruitment events.
But the natural attrition of donors has also been a factor.
“For one reason or another donors may become ineligible to donate blood so perhaps they’ll be deferred for travel reasons or illnesses, or they’ll be put on new medications,” Doyle said. “So we need people who have never donated to help replenish the donors that maybe are phasing out of donating blood.
“Without new donors there is a risk that we are not able to meet patient demand,” she said.
The Canadian Blood Services media release also said a diverse donor base is needed for “complex and underserved patient needs.”
“We are therefore working to build relationships with racialized and Indigenous donor communities and remove barriers to donation,” the release said.
Doyle said patients require blood donations for a variety of reasons whether it’s from an accident or for cancer treatment.
“One of the things is, for example, car accident victims on average, they take about 50 units of blood,” she said. “Fifty different donors had to come in to save this one person’s life.”
Doyle also said that while some may believe there are many requirements to be an eligible donor, one in every two Canadians is actually eligible but only one in every 81 is a donor.
“It’s just not sustainable in the long run,” she said.
World Blood Donor day is also an opportunity to show appreciation for current donors, Doyle said.
“We just want to show how much we appreciate them and how much we love and appreciate all the work that they’ve done to help make sure that patients are getting the blood products that they need,” she said.
Doyle said the impact of blood donors is “truly life saving.”
“You are donating about an hour of your time and you are possibly giving somebody a lifetime,” she said. “There is no substitute for blood.”