Central Alberta desperately needs more blood donors as the supply has plummeted to lowest point in a decade.
Canadian Blood Services stated on Wednesday, during National Blood Donor Week, that 100,000 new donors are needed across the country to restore the donor base to pre-pandemic levels.
“The number of people across Canada who donate regularly has decreased by 31,000 donors since the start of the pandemic,” said Rick Prinzen, Canadian Blood Services’ chief supply chain officer and vice-president of donor relations.
Having the smallest donor base in a decade has put a strain on those who continue to give blood, he added.
“Many of our regular donors already donate multiple times a year. We are grateful (they) have continued to support patients.” But their efforts alone cannot replenish a critically low national blood inventory.
To recover, the non-profit Canadian Blood Services needs 100,000 new donors this year to ensure patient needs can be met.
“During National Blood Donor Week, we are calling on more people across Canada to book an appointment to donate blood, plasma, and platelets,” said Prinzen. “Patient lives depend on new donors coming forward.”
Donor recruitment efforts were hampered by a lack of in-person events because of pandemic restrictions over the past two years. Yet thousands of patients rely on receiving blood, plasma, and platelets during cancer treatments, traumas and childbirth.
Eric Polo, age 15, has to receive blood products every month for a rare condition that affects his production of red blood cells. He’s already received over 200 blood transfusions, and will require them for the rest of his life.
“I am thankful for what blood donors do. They keep me alive,” said Eric.
His mother Daphne agreed, adding, “blood donors are our heroes… I get emotional every time I talk about it. Without them, Eric wouldn’t have lived more than a few weeks.”
In Canada, one in two people are able to donate blood, but only one in 81 actually do.
“We often see a dip in donor turnout when the weather improves and people go on vacation,” said Prinzen, who hopes donors will book and keep their appointments throughout the summer.
“If you are eligible to donate… we ask you to join Canada’s Lifeline and book an appointment to make your first donation,” he added.
Canadian Blood Services is trying to build a more diverse donor base to meet complex and under-served patient needs. Rare blood patients often rely on donors with hard-to-match backgrounds, so the organizations is working to build relationships with racialized and Indigenous donor communities and remove barriers to donation.