One in two people in Canada are eligible to donate blood, and yet just one in 60 actually do – that’s a statistic David Patterson, director of donor relations for Canadian Blood Services in BC and the Yukon is trying to change.
As part of the 10th anniversary of National Blood Donor Week (June 11 to 17) in Canada, the B.C. Ministry of Health held a local blood drive at their downtown location Monday, aiming to put a dent in the 6,000 open appointments in clinics across the province.
“We do a very good job of making blood safe for patients, but we can’t manufacture blood,” Patterson says, referring to donors. “We couldn’t run a blood system without them.”
— Victoria News (@VictoriaNews) June 11, 2018
By July 1, an estimated 44,000 blood donors are needed across Canada. The summer season tends to see a drop in the number of donors and CBS struggles to maintain the levels of blood needed.
While 1,700 clinics run on an annual basis in B.C., collecting over 10,000 units of blood per week, CBS runs a national inventory for blood supply.
“There are patients out there who have very rare blood types,” Patterson explains. “The person who may match a person for Victoria may live in Regina, so we do that matching across the country.”
Less than four per cent of the population supports 100 per cent of the patients in Canada, he adds.
Alice Boggs regularly donates blood – women can do so every 12 weeks, men every eight weeks – and felt compelled to drop by the clinic Monday morning. Boggs donated three times last year, and plans to donate plasma, a liquid component of blood, in the coming weeks.
“It’s just something that I figure I can do – not everyone can – I don’t have a rare blood type or anything, but it’s still a blood type,” she says.
As part of National Blood Donor Week, Canadian Blood Services is running a campaign called ‘The Missing Type.’ Keep an eye out on social media, where Canadians are encouraged to remove the letters ‘a’ ‘b’ and ‘o’ from their handles and posts, to draw awareness to the letters of the main blood groups, and learn their own blood types.
“As blood donors, we can make sure there is never a missing blood type,” says Rick Prinzen, Canadian Blood Services’ chief supply chain officer and VP of donor relations. “We need to constantly add new blood donors to have enough of each blood type on hand for patients across Canada.”
If you’re unsure about whether you’re able to donate, visit blood.ca to take the eligibility quiz, download the GiveBlood app, or call 1-888-236-6283 at any time to speak with a nurse.