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Blood donations needed through the holiday season

October 1, 2020   ·   0 Comments

Canadian Blood Services has had to reshape its clinics for collections during the pandemic.

Venues for the clinics have been modified and, in many instances, their capacity has been reduced to allow for physical distancing.

While this measure ensures everyone who donates blood is safe from COVID-19, it does pose challenges for hitting collection targets.

“For many of us, fall has historically been about back to school and getting back into routine, but we know things are different now. One thing that hasn’t changed is the need for blood, it does remain constant and we certainly do need the support of the community,” said Elaine St. Pierre of Canadian Blood Services.

At St. Paul’s Apostle Church, where blood donation clinics are held in Alliston, the number of beds has been reduced from 10 down to six, making it difficult to meet their targets. However, St. Pierre said they’ve extended those clinics by an hour to make up for the reduced capacity.

“With the pandemic, because of our need for physical distancing, we’ve had to reduce the overall number of appointments available at any event to ensure we don’t have too many people coming at the same time,” St. Pierre said.

She said with less appointments it’s important that everyone who books one shows up.

“There’s less appointments now, so we need to have every one of them filled and we need those donors to be there at their appointments,” said St. Pierre.

Pre-pandemic Canadian Blood Services would need to book two people for each unit of blood donated in anticipation of cancellations and deferrals.

Tottenham has been fortunate in that Canadian Blood Services has been able to utilize the gymnasium of its Community Centre, so collections could continue without skipping a beat since the pandemic started.

In both Alliston and Tottenham, prior to the pandemic, the communities always hit their blood collection targets or exceeded them.

“I think that’s a testament to the extreme dedication that we have from donors in New Tecumseth, but since the beginning of the pandemic, events in these communities have been averaging a few units under target each time,” St. Pierre noted.

“While just a few units may not seem like much, when you extrapolate that over the thousands of events happening across the country where the same things happening, the impact can be felt, resulting in a lower national inventory,” she continued.

“We’re heading into that time where we may be expecting that second wave and we just need to remain diligent and make sure that if you’re eligible, continue to book in and keep that appointment.”

Through Thanksgiving and long weekends, Canadian Blood Services sees a decline in blood donations, which poses a threat to ensuring Canadians can receive lifesaving blood as needed. Blood’s shelf life is short, creating a constant demand for donations.

Canadian Blood Services supplies blood to over 700 hospitals nationwide and uses about 17,000 units of blood each week.

“We are concerned about heading into the winter and everything those winter storms can sometimes bring, so it’s important that we maintain the course,” St. Pierre stressed.

Looking ahead, the next blood donation clinic is Wednesday October 21 from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Community Centre (139 Queen St. N).

“We know that there are challenges now as parents are adjusting to the complexities of the school system and everything that it brings, so I’m just really hoping they can take an hour out of their day to donate,” said St. Pierre.

“All blood types are needed and everyone who is eligible is really encouraged to book, ask a family member, ask a friend, or even someone that’s in your social bubble, ask them to book an appointment and donate with you.”

Visit or download the Give Blood App to check eligibility and book an appointment. All appointments must be booked in advance and require additional screening related to COVID-19.

By Sam Odrowski
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter


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