June 15th, 2024

Canadian Blood Services encouraging locals to donate in the new year

By Ry Clarke - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on December 21, 2022.

Submitted photo Steve Kashman sits in the donor chair, giving his 700th donation earlier this moth at Canadian Blood Services Plasma Donor Centre.

Canadian Blood Services is hoping to encourage Lethbridge residents to roll up their sleeves and give to save lives.

Winter is a challenging time for blood and plasma donations, according to Canadian Blood Services six out of ten eligible donors in Canada believe donating blood or plasma over the holidays is important, yet only one in ten plan to book an appointment before the end of the year. To combat those odds, Canadian Blood Services is hoping its new campaign, Give 3 in 2023, will help spread awareness about the importance of aid, whether it is with a Band-Aid on their sleeve or supporting a friend in the chair.

“Give 3 in 2023 asks people across Canada to commit to supporting patients in three different ways,” said Brenna Scott, business development manager at the Lethbridge Plasma Donor Centre. “People can determine what works best for them using a bunch of different commitments that we have on our website, 3in2023.blood.ca. Giving back in these three ways could be giving blood or plasma, it could be posting about donations on social media, encouraging others to give, sharing our social posts about the need for donors, joining the stem cell registry, register to be an organ and tissue donor, giving a financial contribution, or bringing a friend to your next appointment. We are trying to promote all the ways that can be a part of Canada’s lifeline, it isn’t just donating, it can be whatever you would like it to be.”

With the need for donors, Canadian Blood Services hopes to fill its slots come the new year. “We are really trying to promote taking that last step of booking an appointment, making time in your schedule,” said Scott. “Winter cold and flu season is upon us and we do see higher cancellation rates because of that. The last week of December and those first weeks of January are always the hardest for us to fill. We get that life does get busy, but we are trying to promote the need for our national inventory of blood and plasma through this time as well.”

When it comes to donating blood, O-negative blood donors are especially needed because this blood type can be transfused to any patient. But donating plasma can be done by anyone of any blood type.

“Here in Lethbridge, we do just collect plasma, the process takes a bit longer, but it is just that one needle in your arm and 30 to 35 minutes later we collect your plasma,” said Scott. “We actually separate your plasma out of your whole blood, it spins in a machine beside you, it’s a very interesting process to watch, and then we give your red blood cells and your platelets back to you. It does that back-and-forth process like dialysis until we get a full plasma donation. Men can donate every seven days, and women every 14 days.”

Plasma donations are important in Canada with the benefit of helping save lives.

“We have seen the increase in the need of plasma over the past number of years,” said Scott. “We were having to source a lot of our plasma needs from the United States and the global market. What we are trying to do with these plasma centres, that have been opening all throughout Canada, is become a lot more self-sufficient here and less reliant on the United States and global market. We are seeing that plasma has been able to be used for so many different health conditions. There is a wide array that it can be used for.”

The Lethbridge Plasma Donor Centre, 3735 Mayor Magrath Dr S. Unit 10, will be celebrating two years in Lethbridge on Dec. 22. There was a campaign this month inviting local organizations, colonies, and school groups to ‘adopt a bed for the day’ assisting toward donations.

“That was extremely successful, we had 41 organizations book to come in and most of our days in December had more than one group come in,” said Scott.

Hoping to spur everyone to add Canadian Blood Services to their New Year’s resolutions, the organization asks those who have not to consider if they can.

“The first two weeks of January are really critical for us. We have 600 open appointments that we need to fill. We would love if people could come in to donate, book an appointment in advance on the Give Blood app, or by calling 1-888-236-6283, or going to blood.ca,” said Scott. “We know that in January everyone is thinking about what can I do this year, and even if they have never donated before, we would love for them to add that to their New Year’s resolution.”

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