June 22nd, 2024

Spotlight shines on blood donors this week

By Lethbridge Herald on June 13, 2023.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman Ibukun Idowu donates plasma Monday afternoon during National Donor Week at the Canadian Blood Services, Plasma Donor Centre.

This week Canadian Blood Services is celebrating National Donor Week, and their theme is Shine a Light, in hopes that by shining the light on the need for donations they will increase. 

Business development manager at the Canadian Blood Services Lethbridge plasma centre, Brenna Scott they are thanking their loyal donors this week while also encouraging new donors to come forward. 

“We’re thanking our loyal donors that have showed up for us each and every day, but we really do need new donors as well, especially throughout the summer with travel plans and vacations once people are out of town,” said Scott. 

She said when people go on vacation during the summer, they struggle to fill up the donation appointments, and therefore the need increases. 

“We also saw during the pandemic, across Canadian blood services we lost about 31,000 donors, they weren’t coming in as regularly and that really affected us. So, we’re hoping that with national blood donor week we can really shine a light on the need for how many new donors we need to bring in, specifically here in Lethbridge,” said Scott. 

She said that even though the Lethbridge community has been very supportive, with donors that show up on a regular basis, they still have 700 open appointments that need to be filled. 

“We have some men that come every week, we have some women that come bi-weekly because that’s how often you can donate as a woman,” said Scott. 

She said their regular donors are known by the staff and they are hoping they will start bringing in new donors with them. 

“We’re also highlighting national blood donor week by having our first open house so tomorrow (today) Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The centre is open to the public, if you want to come in and get a tour, people will be donating during that time so you can see the process in person, we’ll show you behind the scenes of what happens to plasma after it’s collected here on site, we’ll have food and drinks available,” said Scott. 

Scott explained that in Lethbridge, the Canadian Blood Services just collects plasma, and when people donate it is a bit of a different process than when they donate full blood. 

“When we collect it, it’s sent to a centre fractionator and made into specialized medications and that takes about nine months to be made into that medication and then come back to help Canadian patients here,” said Scott. 

She said someone who might have a health condition may need over 100 plasma donations a year, which is large amount. 

“Plasma is able to help a lot of different conditions like Cancer, liver disease, kidney disease, severe burns and we’ve really just seen the need for plasma really increase year after year. Right now, the need for plasma is about four times what we’re currently collecting in Canada, so we’re having to source a lot of that from the United States and the global market,” said Scott.

She said with plasma centres like the one here in Lethbridge, they are hoping to become more self-sufficient and less reliant on the global community. 

Scott said those interested in donating plasma need to be at least 17 years old, weight at least 110 pounds, and meet donation eligibility. 

“We always direct people to either to call 1888 2 donate or visit blood.ca to check your eligibility before you come in to donate,” said Scott. 

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