Every holiday season, Canadian Blood Services finds itself sharing a similar message — it needs blood donors.
But this year, the need is an anxious plea.
Typically, the blood collection agency builds its inventory before Christmas. However, storms forced the closure of several clinics in the Atlantic region leading into the holidays and the inventory is low.
An estimated 600 donations are needed to get through the holidays.
“One in two Canadians are eligible to give blood,” said Peter MacDonald, director of donor relations. “This would be the week that it’s really needed.
“We really need support.”
Kathy Gracie, territory manager, said three out of four clinics in the Atlantic region were closed for a day, resulting in a big hit to donations.
“In Halifax, in a day, we would collect 48 [donations],” she said. “But we only collected 8.”
Donations time sensitive
The need for a fresh blood supply is constant.
Blood donations are divided into three parts: plasma that can be frozen for up to a year, red cells that last 42 days and platelets that expire after just five days.
Platelets are most commonly used in the treatment of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.
MacDonald said this week, the number of appointments booked in advance will only fill half of the agency’s need.
Some offices had fewer than 10 donations scheduled for Boxing Day, when they have room for six times that number.
New rules on iron levels, which mean women can’t donate as often as they used to, are also affecting blood donations.
Iron is an essential element the body requires to produce haemoglobin, the protein found in red blood cells that’s responsible for transporting oxygen to tissues in the body.
Women now need to wait 12 weeks between blood donations, up from eight weeks, to allow iron levels to recover.
“When you have less attendance and challenges with snowstorms as we’ve had this year, that really becomes part of the equation,” said MacDonald.