By: Nick Travis
While social-distancing and self-isolation are crucial to flattening the curve of COVID-19, the Canadian Blood Services stresses the importance of donating today
Despite the recent worries surrounding Coronavirus and the rallying calls to stay indoors and self-isolate, one very important service is calling on Canadians to keep coming through their doors – Canadian Blood Services.
On any given day, Canadian Blood Services carries about three to five days worth of blood country wide. With the recent downturn in people willing to leave the house for any reason, Canadian Blood Services has seen a sudden drop in appointments. According to Gord Skiffington, Canadian Blood Services territory manager for Newfoundland and Labrador, it doesn’t take long to fall behind on supplies without a constant stream of donors.
A need for donors
“We need all blood types every single day of the year even during the pandemic situation,” said Skiffington. “Accident victims, surgical patients, patients undergoing cancer treatments and people with blood disorders still rely on donors to donate blood on a daily basis throughout the entire year.”
In an effort to keep donors healthy during this period of pandemic, Canadian Blood Services has put extra safety measures in place. At this time, they’re not accepting any walk in donations. Those that do come in for appointments are socially distanced as much as possible, and are made to clean their hands while checking in.
“We are encouraging people who are interested in donating to book an appointment,” said Skiffington.
“They could go to blood.ca and book an appointment there, or they can download the GiveBlood app. They could also take the eligibility quiz on blood.ca or on the GiveBlood app to see if they’re actually eligible at this point in time.”
It’s in you to give
The process of giving blood takes about an hour once it’s all said and done. This includes the pre-screening questionnaire before one actually donates blood. To donate blood, donors need to provide a piece of government-issued ID complete with their name and birth date such as a passport, driver’s license or a newer MCP card.
“Once the questionnaire is complete, they would meet with a technician who would review their answers to assess their health and they would also check their hemoglobin as well,” said Skiffington. “The donation takes on average about 10 minutes, but it could be a little bit less or a bit longer depending on certain variables like the size of the person’s veins or their blood pressure. Once they’re finished donating, there is a rest area where they would rest and we give them some refreshments just to replenish.”
Some people may not be eligible to give blood based on pre-existing conditions. About 50-60 per cent of the population is eligible to give blood at any given time. While there is no upper age limit, those under age 17 are ineligible to donate. People donating must be in good general health and not have gotten any tattoos or piercings in the last three months. Those who are unsure if they’re eligible are encouraged to take Canadian Blood Services online eligibility test.
“We do need our regular donors over the coming days and weeks again,” said Skiffington.
‘It’s a marathon’
“It’s a marathon, it’s not a sprint. People who booked appointments, we need them to keep their appointments as well because this could last into weeks and months. So we need that constant trickle of donors through our donor centres over the coming weeks.”
Anyone looking to donate blood during this time is encouraged to download the GiveBlood app on their phone or go to blood.ca.