July 14th, 2024

Plasma donations needed during holidays, says Canadian Blood Services

By Lethbridge Herald on December 20, 2023.

Donor Gord Graham gives plasma during the Canadian Blood Services “Donate Joy” campaign on Tuesday at the Plasma Centre. Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman

Alejandra Pulido-Guzman – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – apulido@lethbridgeherald.com

While many continue to find ways to help those in need during the holiday season, the Canadian Blood Services plasma centre is hoping this includes plasma donations to help those who rely on them to stay alive. 

Business development manager at the Lethbridge plasma centre, Brenna Scott says the demand for plasma remains high, and she is encouraging residents to include plasma donations in their gift of giving this holiday season. She said between now and Jan. 6 there 350 plasma donation appointments need to be filled. 

“We find that leading up to Christmas, up until the 24th or 25th giving is top of mind for people, but that week after Christmas in those first couple weeks in January we generally see a dip in donations because giving isn’t top of mind anymore. People are busy with family and friends but we do really encourage you to make an appointment, bring in a new family member or a friend,” said Scott. 

She said bringing new people to the centre is important for increasing the donor base to be able to cover all their appointments, especially this holiday season. 

“One of our slogans this winter is ‘donate joy’ and what we mean by that is donate the joy that someone would have because you gave them plasma and they were able to go home and be with their families this holiday season,” said Scott. 

She said when people donate plasma, they are literally saving a life and are helping many patients all across Canada who need lifesaving medications to live and thrive. 

“You should really remember that when you come in to donate, and we appreciate each and every one of those donations because of it,” said Scott. 

She said even though 2023 has been a strong year for plasma donations with 8,800 donations received they would like to see more donors come in. 

“We are pretty happy with that, but we have a goal of bringing in new donors in 2024. We would really like to see at least 200 brand new donors in the centre every month, to really grow our donor base. We have a smaller donor base of really dedicated donors that are maintaining that lifeline, but some people aren’t able to donate sometimes from those regular donors, so we want to be able to make sure that those spots are filled and having new donors with us all the time,” said Scott. 

She said if people are able to donate whole blood, they are most likely able to donate plasma. Some deterrents can be found online at blood.ca or people can call 188-to-donate. 

“For example, if you’ve had a tattoo, that’s a three-month deferral, If you’ve been pregnant that’s a deferral, so there are certain medications and health conditions that would defer you, but generally if you’re healthy you would be able to come in to donate plasma,” said Scott. 

She said one of the reasons why people may believe they are not eligible to donate plasma is based on historical eligibility reasons related to the human variant of mad cow disease, but those have recently changed. 

“Based on 30 years of research, people who lived or spent time in United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland or France during the mad cow disease outbreaks, with the variant called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, are now able to donate blood plasma and platelets. This, we believe, does affect a large number of donors that in the past were deferred, and we’re so excited that after 30 years research all these people are able to come in, so we’re hoping to see some brand new donors this month and in the months ahead as well,” said Scott. 

The centre will be open today from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and will be closed Dec. 24 to Dec. 26 and Dec. 30 to Jan. 1. And on Dec. 27 to Dec. 29 the centre will open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. for plasma donation.

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