Severe winter weather over the holiday season has caused a shortfall in blood and plasma donations in Canada, says the Canadian Blood Services.
The organization says about 1,500 units, or 10 per cent, of expected blood and plasma collections didn’t happen due to heavy snowfall, extreme cold, and icy conditions.
Tracy Smith, director for donor relations and collections for Western Canada, said the Red Deer blood donor clinic has about 326 appointments that need to be filled over the next two weeks.
She said that’s a lot of unfilled appointments.
“Depending on the day we’re anywhere between 50 to 60 per cent full so there’s lots of ability there for people to make an appointment and come in and donate,” Smith said on Tuesday.
She said the service’s national inventory can move across the county and recent storms also made that movement a little more difficult, but it’s improving.
She said typically there is a strong donor turnout in early December, and the week between Christmas and New Year is a bit of a struggle because people are travelling or busy with family and friends. Challenging weather last week further compounded the impact to donations.
The winter flu and cold season is another factor that prevents people from donating at this time of the year.
“You have to be healthy and feeling well to enter our donation centres, as well as donate, so some of our cancellation rates are quite high across the country.”
Canadian Blood Services says it has 31,000 fewer regular donors since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The need is being met by the smallest donor base in a decade which is not sustainable.
The national blood inventory has declined by over 35 per cent since the start of October. Currently, the organization has three or four days on hand of several blood types, meanwhile the ideal inventory of fresh blood products is between five and eight days.
Smith said donor blood is processed into plasma and platelets. Donors of all blood types are needed right now to meet the needs of patients with serious bleeding or those undergoing cancer treatments.
O-negative blood donors are also needed because this universal blood type can be transfused to any patient. In times of emergency or for newborn patients, O-negative blood can save lives.
Red Deerians and central Albertans can book donation appointments online at blood.ca, on the GiveBlood app, or by calling 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283).