Canadian Blood Services is rallying people across the country to shine a light on the need for new blood and plasma donors to help sustain the national blood system.
"Over the course of the pandemic, we’ve seen Canada’s donor participation rate drop from just under four per cent of the eligible population to under two per cent," the agency said in a news release. "This small group of dedicated donors continues to sustain the national blood system, but more are needed to grow the donor base and help keep 'Canada’s Lifeline' strong."
The Shine a Light campaign is running now and through National Blood Donor Week, June 11 to 17, to encourage people to begin donating on a regular basis.
"Their generosity will make all the difference for local patients," the agency said.
More than 100,000 new blood and plasma donors are needed every year to meet ongoing patient needs.
“We know Canadians are generous people, however there are simply not enough folks donating blood and blood products regularly,” says Ron Vezina, Canadian Blood Services vice-president of public affairs. “People tend to think ‘someone else will do it’. The reality is, there is a small group of dedicated donors filling hospital blood banks. We are grateful for their commitment, but when they aren’t able to donate, it leaves a gap. That could mean the difference between life or death for a patient.”
Amélie Adolphe and her family know first-hand the impact a donor can make. Amélie nearly died after swallowing a lithium button battery in the spring of 2020 when she was 18 months old. The battery caused extensive internal damage and she needed countless blood products to survive. Thankfully, the blood she needed was available.
“The doctors could have done everything right, but without blood donors, Amélie would have died,” says her mom, Leslie Bangamba. “Instead, this happy little girl is back to dancing in the kitchen.” See Amélie’s story.
“To keep a stable supply of blood and blood products for patients like Amélie, we need to reverse this downward trend and it needs to start now” Vezina said. “When everyone’s lives were disrupted by the pandemic, their routines changed. We need people to make blood and plasma donation a habit.”
The campaign is running coast-to-coast, culminating on World Blood Donor Day in lighting up more than 60 landmarks across the country.
This year, across Canada, Canadian Blood Services must collect 16,000 units of blood and 3,000 units of plasma every week. New and existing plasma and blood donors are needed to fill every open appointment from now through to the end of the summer.
“If you’re already a donor, or you aren’t able to donate, you can still make a difference by encouraging others to book an appointment. It takes donors of all kinds to keep Canada’s Lifeline strong. You can also register your intent to donate your organs and tissues, volunteer your time, or make a financial donation. Folks between 17 and 35 can register as a potential stem cell donor. We’re asking Canadians to share this message with their family, their friends and through their social networks.”
Donors with all blood types are needed
People with less common blood types depend on each other. The less common a person’s blood type, the more difficult it is to find a donor if that person suddenly needs matched rare blood for a transfusion.
“Not only do we need to collect enough of each blood type, we know that blood from donors of the same or similar racial or ethnic background as the recipient is less likely to cause complications for patients who need regular transfusion therapy,” Vezina said. “Our priority is to ensure the best possible treatment and care is given to patients from all communities. To do that, we need to improve the representation of Black, South Asian and other racialized people within our donor base.”
To be one of the 100,000 new donors, download the GiveBlood app, visit blood.ca, or call 1 888 2DONATE (1-888-236-6283) and book an appointment today.