By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on February 2, 2024.
Lethbridge emergency service workers are putting up their sleeves for the Canadian Blood Services’ Sirens for Life Alberta challenge 2024 and community members are being encouraged to join in.
Business Development Manager with the Lethbridge Plasma Centre, Brenna Scott explained what Sirens for Life is about to the Herald on Thursday.
“It’s our annual campaign where we invite all first responders to come in to donate throughout the entire month. So it’s the fire department, police department, all emergency first responders. It’s kind of like a friendly challenge where you want their teams to come in to donate, hopefully book some group donations and help promote the need for plasma donations here in Lethbridge,” said Scott.
The Lethbridge Fire Department won last year’s challenge and Scott said she couldn’t wait to learn who claims this year’s title.
“Lethbridge really has that strong sense of community, and the fact that they take their time out of their busy schedules to come and donate and support the campaign really does mean a lot to us,” said Scott.
She said the event brought in just under 100 donations in 2023 and they are hoping to surpass that. Scott added that while Thursday marked the challenge kick-off in Lethbridge, Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer hosted theirs in January.
“The fact that we had just under 100 plasma donations from this campaign specifically last year is really great. That really goes a long way to help patients all across Canada. So we’re really hoping to maybe even get a bit more than 100 this year,” said Scott.
She said those coming into the centre can choose to make their donations count towards the challenge by choosing which team to support, or simply donate as they always do.
“We can sign them up for that Partner for Life team or if they just want to come in to support, but not a specific team, that’s possible as well. We do like it when they sign up for a team, that way it’s easier for us to track how many donations the campaign specifically brought in, but either way is absolutely great with us,” said Scott.
She said for people who want to help but are unable to donate for any reason, there are many other avenues they can take..
“You can support financially, by volunteering with us. We’re always looking for more volunteers, both in the centre as well as in the community,” said Scott.
Â She explained the Plasma Centre does a lot of awareness events during farmers markets, Whoop Up Days and other events and people are always wanted to help them promote the need for plasma.
Â “And also we always need people to be awareness champions, so even if you don’t want to donate or you can’t, if you share what you’ve learned about plasma to others in the community we would really appreciate that as well,” said Scott.
Town of Coaldale Mayor Jack Van Rijn joined the Sirens for Life challenge kick-off Thursday and spoke while donating plasma.
“I’ve been an active donor for several years now. It started off with a friend whose child needed a stem cell transplant, so they were looking for potential donors, so I started to come, and I’ve been coming ever since. And for myself I think it’s important for people to understand how important it is to donate plasma,” said Van Rijn.
He said the event is a great cause and reason to donate – and that is one of the reasons he was there.
“I’m also a member of the Kinsmen club of Coaldale and we’re part of the Partners for Life, and as a group we come in once a month, the first Wednesday of the month to donate plasma for life. I’ve been doing this for six years now,” said Van Rijn.
Scott said the timeframe for donations has changed in the past year.
“For plasma you’re able to donate every seven days, for men or women. It used to be every 14 days for women and every seven days for men, but within the last year we have done a lot of research into it to make sure it’s safe to be changing it to seven days for everyone,” said Scott.
She said Sirens for Life runs until Feb. 29 and the Plasma Centre is able to accommodate up to 310 appointments per week. People can book their appointments online at blood.ca, by calling 1-888-to donate or by stopping by the plasma centre located at 3735 Mayor Magrath Drive South.