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Canadians answer the call for blood donors

Thank You Canada!

November 20, 2008 -- Three weeks after announcing Canada's national blood inventory had dropped 40 percent, our nation's blood supply has recovered, thanks to a generous response by Canadians.

As of November 18, all blood groups are back to their regular 4- to 6-day supply, which is required to fully meet hospital patient needs.

How well did Canada respond to the call for more blood donors? These are just a few encouraging signs:

  • This recovery came just in time. We've had no reports of patient care being cancelled or postponed due to the inventory shortfall.
  • The week of Nov. 2 was one of the strongest blood collection weeks in our 10-year history as Canadian Blood Services. It was second only to the week of the Sept. 11 tragedy.
  • The day after reaching out to Canadians, our phone lines saw a 130 percent increase in calls coming in. The phones are still ringing.
  • While loyal blood donors made giving a priority and carried us through the past few weeks, we've seen an increase of "new blood". About 15 percent of our collections came from new donors, and about 9 percent of donations came from donors who hadn't given in a long time.

"We want to thank the thousands of donors who gave blood," said Chief Operating Officer Ian Mumford. Canadian Blood Services staff and volunteers stepped up in commendable fashion to meet this great public response. However, the surge in volume meant that some donors waited longer than usual to give blood. "We thank donors for their patience, and hope that the satisfaction of knowing they may have saved up to three lives was worth the wait. We are committed to making their next blood donation an even better experience."

Credit is also due to over 700 hospitals across the country served by Canadian Blood Services. "We want to thank our hospital partners who dealt with the reduced availability of blood and helped us recover from this situation without negatively impacting patient care," added Mumford.

Cautious Optimism

While we're optimistic, we're cautious heading into the future.

"The challenge is now making sure people know we need them to donate blood regularly - not just in times of crisis," says Mumford. Someone in Canada requires blood every 60 seconds. Blood has to be used before its "expiry date". It can't be stored for future use. "That's why our country's blood supply depends on a constant stream of donors," he said.

Most of the units of blood we collected during this public appeal have already been sent to hospitals for use, or are currently en route.

In the month of December, our forecasts show that hospitals will still need more blood than what we're expecting donors to give. That means we will draw down reserves once again, though not to the degree we saw this fall.

The thousands of Canadians who donated blood during the past few weeks will not be eligible to give again until the New Year, so hospital patients will depend on other people who have not donated recently to ensure a sufficient supply of blood in December.

What can you do to help?

  • If you don't have an appointment to give blood and are eligible, please call us today. We need help throughout the month of December, but in particular the two weeks around Christmas and into the first few weeks of January.
  • If you have an appointment to give blood, please honour it, or if you can't make it for some reason, give us a call so we can fill your spot with another donor waiting. Last December, 25,000 people did not show up for their appointments, and did not call to cancel. "No shows" make it very difficult to plan how much blood we'll be able to collect for hospitals.
  • For more information about when or where to give blood in your community, visit our clinic locator (hyperlink), or call us at 1 888 2 DONATE to book an appointment to give blood and save a life today.

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Media inquiries may be directed to:
Ron Vezina
Director Media Relations and External Communications
Tel: 613 739 2044
Cel: 613 715 0199
Email: ron.vezina@blood.ca

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