Blood donations needed in Canada, service says

Ottawa –

Canadian Blood Services says it has been successful in attracting new blood donors, but a high number of outstanding or canceled appointments over the past few months has resulted in a lower-than-expected blood supply.

The organization set an ambitious goal in June to attract 100,000 new donors to address its smallest donor base in a decade.

There are 31,000 fewer donors than before the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning more pressure on the few willing to roll up their sleeves.

“We’ve really seen a slow increase in the donor base over the past few quarters again. I think about 80% of the goal has been achieved,” said Dr. Graham Sher, CEO of Canadian Blood Services.

“The truth is we’ve been able to consistently meet the needs of our patients. We’ve delivered all of our products to hospitals … but we’ve gone to the well too many times (with) the same donors.”

The service oversees the regular movement of stocks of blood and blood products across the country to meet hospital and patient needs.

Between 400,000 and 425,000 Canadians donate blood on a regular basis.

But stocks have a shelf life — one year for frozen plasma, 42 days for red blood cells, five days for platelets — so some work is needed to ensure supplies continue to meet demand.

“Supply is tight. We want to have 21,000 to 25,000 units of blood in stock on any given day because that gives us the flexibility and flexibility to meet demand across the country,” Sher said.

“We have 15,000 to 16,000 units in our inventory, not 21,000 units. That’s why we say we need to build a donor base and increase recruitment.”

Canadian Blood Services has 25,000 empty appointments to fill before the busy Christmas and New Years period is over. It’s also dealing with a high number of people who canceled or didn’t show up at all due to a combination of cold, flu and COVID-19 illnesses.

“Winter cold and flu season is upon us, our cancellation rates have skyrocketed, and we are entering the toughest weeks for collecting blood and blood products,” said Rick Prinzen, Chief Supply Chain Officer and Vice President of Donor Relations. Canadian Blood Services.

“Winter storms may further impact collections.”

The Canadian Press report was first published on December 13, 2022.

-Bill Graveland, Calgary

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