January 21st, 2021

Needed increase in blood donations predicted

By Jensen, Randy on June 13, 2020.

Tim Kalinowski

Lethbridge Herald


This week is National Blood Donors Week in Canada, and while Lethbridge is doing well in terms of donations at the moment, Canadian Blood Services does see an increased need for blood in the months ahead.

“We have been very fortunate (in Lethbridge),” says Lisa Castro, territory manager with Canadian Blood Services in southern Alberta. “With the onset of the global pandemic, the community has really stepped up and supported us throughout. During the months of March and April, we actually saw about 20 per cent more new donors than we did last year. Just incredible support from everyone in the community, and we want to tell them how grateful we are for that.

“Where we do see a developing need,” she confirms, “is with hospitals returning back to regular procedures that may have been delayed due to COVID. We see that need rising in the weeks to come. Going into July and the month of August, we are encouraging people to take some time to book an appointment in advance.”

Canadian Blood Services is still at its Lethbridge Centre Mall (200 4 Ave. S.) location on the second floor. And while it was announced last year Lethbridge would be converting over to plasma-only donation at a different location, that hasn’t happened yet, Castro confirms.

That being said, donors will notice new procedures in place due to COVID-19.

“You will see quite a difference in the donor process,” Castro states. “When you arrive at our donor centre you are going to stop at our wellness checkpoint, and we are going to ask you some questions regarding how you are feeling that day or if you have travelled. You are also going to be given a mask to wear throughout the process, and we will be taking your temperature.”

Picture Butte resident Amy West adds her voice to that of Castro in encouraging Lethbridge residents to give generously. West’s father Sam died after prolonged and chronic illness in April 2019.

“For the last few years as his illness progressed he had quite a few complications from his condition,” says West, “which led to internal bleeding. So quite often over the past few years leading up to his passing he would have regular blood work, and when his hemoglobin was low he would have to get blood transfusions. In the last week leading to his passing (on April 6, 2019), he had quite a significant internal bleed and actually had to receive about 40 units of blood over that week.”

West’s family started a partnership with Canadian Blood Services called “Sam’s Heroes” to honour her father’s memory and encourage more people to donate blood in his name.

“Everyone thinks of blood donations helping people who are in car accidents or other traumatic events, but it was really eye opening for our family to see that it’s not just traumatic cases that need it, and how many other people in other (chronic) situations can benefit from it as well,” she says.

For most donors giving blood takes minimal effort, says West, but the impact of that donation could be huge for those in need.

“Everyone needs blood to survive, and as a healthy person you regenerate it quite quickly,” she says. “It is just recognizing the good that can come from donating. It takes about 10 minutes out or your day to make a blood donation, and it can literally save a life or give people more time, as in my dad’s case, with their loved ones.”

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