With the pandemic sweeping the world and leaving most countries with a loss of blood services, Canada has been pushing to stay afloat.
Being one of the few operators around the world that has not experienced a blood crisis or issued a national appeal during the pandemic, Canadian Blood Services continues to provide residents with essential blood services.
But, over the summer, the organization has seen a large decrease in donors, leaving a need for both donors and supplies more than ever.
“Summer is always a challenging time for collections. People in Canada are enjoying the return to pre-pandemic activities and summer travel, leaving them with less time to donate,” says Deb Steele-Kretschmer with Canadian Blood Services.
“This has been compounded with the availability of fewer in-person community events to recruit new and returning donors, ongoing illness and isolation requirements related to COVID-19, [and] heat-related weather impacts.”
Inspired to donate
Taneesha Dunn is a longtime blood donor. Having been inspired by her dad — who’s donated over 30 times — Dunn says just one donation can go a long way.
“[My dad] was actually contacted through the stem cell network because he was a match with a little boy in Pennsylvania who had leukemia. He was the only match in the entire network in North America,” Dunn says.
“To watch him do that for somebody he didn’t even know was absolutely inspiring to start being a blood donor myself.”
With the loss of 31,000 donors since the start of the pandemic, both Steele-Kretschmer and Dunn encourage people to check if they’re eligible for donation.
According to Canadian Blood Services, one in two people in Canada are eligible to donate, but only one in 81 does.
Calgary donors needed
Dunn says there have been immense improvements since she started the donation process.
“It’s faster, and just on the topic of sexuality and abilities to donate, the questions have changed so much over the years,” Dunn says.
“I went into a blood donor clinic to see if that was the case, and if I answered all of the questions honestly if I still wouldn’t be able to donate… due to the fact that I’m a gay female, [but] I was able to donate without question.”
With many appointments still open, Steele-Kretschmer says Canadian Blood Services needs to fill them in order to maintain the inventory.
“There are 57,000 open appointments that must be filled before the end of August across Canada,” Steele-Krestchmer says.
“In the Calgary area, there are 1,475 open appointments that need to be filled between now and Labour Day.”
Every day, blood, plasma, and platelets are used to help treat patients in need. With daily transfusions, donating is a simple process.
“You literally save life, and it takes 30 minutes of your time, and you get a snack,” Dunn says.