Winter is a challenging time for blood and plasma collections. In a recent Ipsos survey, 6 out of 10 eligible donors in Canada believe that donating blood or plasma over the holidays is important, but only 1 in 10 plan to book an appointment before December 31. At the same time, the national inventory of several blood types is far below optimal, and respiratory illnesses such as RSV, flu, and COVID-19 are making it more difficult to staff donor centers and donation events.
Rick Prinzen, Canadian Blood Services’ Chief Supply Chain Officer and Vice-President of Donor Relations, says, “Winter cold and flu season is upon us, our cancellation rates have jumped significantly, and we’re heading into the toughest weeks to collect blood and blood products. Winter storms could further impact collections, and more than 25,000 open appointments must be filled across Canada by December 31. Booking an appointment and donating will make all the difference.”
O-negative blood donors are especially needed because this blood type can be transfused to any patient. In times of emergency or for newborn patients, O-negative blood, the universal blood type, makes a lifesaving difference. Regular blood donations are also needed to ensure platelets are available. Platelets are a vital blood component with a shelf life of only seven days. One of the most common uses for platelets is to treat cancer patients.
“Late cancellations and missed appointments make it challenging to collect blood products. If you make an appointment, please try to keep it. If you are unable to make it to your appointment, please cancel it as early as possible so someone else may take your place,” says Mr. Prinzen.
As reported earlier this year, the number of people who donate regularly has decreased by 31,000 since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Patients’ needs are still being met by the smallest donor base in a decade, but this is not sustainable. Patients across Canada need new and returning donors more than ever to give lifesaving blood and plasma. Right now is the time to book an appointment. Your donation could help bring someone home this winter season,” says Prinzen.
Your donations matter. They help people be there for their families, give back to their communities, and improve the lives of others. When you donate, you help ensure Canada’s Lifeline is strong and you shape someone’s tomorrow. Patients are waiting for new and returning donors to make all the difference today and throughout the winter months. Cancer patients, accident victims, and people with rare, life-threatening, chronic, and genetic conditions rely on blood, platelets, and plasma donations every day.
Thousands more new plasma and blood donors are needed across the country. Book your appointment online at blood.ca, on the GiveBlood app, or by calling 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283).