Blood donations needed over the Christmas season

Canadian Blood Services has called for more than 30,000 blood donors across the country

Canadian Blood Services has called for more than 30,000 blood donors across the country to book and keep their appointments through to Jan. 6th to help make sure blood and blood products are available.

In Red Deer, organizers say they have more than 500 appointments that need to be filled by Jan. 7th.

Typically, the holidays can prove a challenging time for collecting donations as people are busy with Christmas plans and events, said Shaun Richer, territory manager at Canadian Blood Services.

Besides openings at the Red Deer location (5020 – 68th St.) another session is set for Lacombe next week as well.

“We actually have two centres scheduled over the holiday break – the one coming up next Monday, December 24th is in Lacombe,” he said. “We are looking for over 65 donors to come out and support that centre.”

Lacombe residents can make donations on Dec. 24th at the Central Alberta Christian High School. Hours run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“Walk-ins are welcome, but we also ask that people go onto blood.ca and book an appointment or they can call 1-888-236-6283 as well.

“The holiday season is always challenging for us because there is a change in routines – people are taking vacations, the kids are out of school, everyone is enjoying the season with friends and family. We understand that, but we are just here to remind people that if you are able to donate (it’s great) because there is a bit of an extra push with those schedules being interrupted,” he added.

Another mobile centre is set for Dec. 31st in Stettler.

As Richer said, blood donations do have a ‘shelf life’, so a continuous supply is vital.

Canadian Blood Services is also predicting the risk of a low supply of platelets – a vital component with a seven-day shelf life.

Platelets help make blood clot and are used in the treatment of many conditions. One of the most common uses for platelets is to treat cancer patients.

“Whole blood does have a shelf life of about 40 days,” he said. “When you buy milk, you know that it’s going to expire at a certain point. That’s exactly what happens with blood. And typically, in Alberta and right across Canada the supplies are used up well before that date. That’s why there is always that consistent need.”

Blood donations over the holidays are also needed for chemotherapy treatments as well as trauma victims, cardiac surgeries and organ transplants – procedures that all take place between Christmas and New Year’s Day, noted a release.

“The holiday period is typically a challenging time to collect blood, with many regular donors away or busy with seasonal commitments,” said Rick Prinzen, Canadian Blood Services’ chief supply chain officer.

“But the need for blood does not take a holiday, which is why donations at this time of year are so vitally important for patients,” says Prinzen, “We strongly encourage eligible donors to give blood. Your support will ensure we continue to help every patient, match every need and serve every Canadian.”

When donating blood, the standard donation is approximately 450 mL – slightly less than half a litre or two cups. This represents a small portion of the blood in a person’s body, as the average adult has about five litres.

It’s also not a huge time commitment to donate – the entire process takes just over an hour.

To book an appointment in Red Deer, call 403-309-3378. Donations for any of the above sessions can also be booked via the GiveBlood app or by visiting www.blood.ca.

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