Blood donations are essential during COVID-19

DEC. 15, 2020 (OTTAWA) – Canadian Blood Services is calling on all eligible blood donors to support lifesaving care for patients over the holidays by responding to the immediate need to fill more than 15,000 open appointments across Canada by December 31.

Blood donors are needed to fill every appointment. Collection opportunities will be lost over several days because of the timing of statutory holidays this season, which could put the platelet inventory at risk. Donated blood lasts only 42 days but platelets that are commonly used to treat cancer patients have a short expiry of seven days.

The COVID-19 pandemic will weigh heavily on donors’ thoughts and behaviours this year, but the need for blood remains the same. Donor centres remain open to allow Canadian Blood Services to continue to provide essential products and services for patients throughout the pandemic and leaving home to give blood is allowed even during lockdown.

Donor centres will be open on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, in addition to regularly scheduled operating hours. A reminder– to maximize physical distancing measures at collection events, appointments are required to donate.

“Safety is our highest priority. Enhanced wellness measures are in effect throughout all our donor centres to ensure the wellbeing of donors and our teams is safeguarded,” says Rick Prinzen, Canadian Blood Services chief supply chain officer and vice-president of donor relations.

“Not all connections can be virtual during COVID-19. We’re grateful to donors and frontline workers who have helped maintain an adequate level of blood products for patients since the onset of the pandemic. But the demand for blood never stops, even over the holidays.”

Although donating blood or plasma is less social than a traditional holiday activity, it is a safe way for those looking for a festive fix to connect with their community. By scheduling an hour of time to donate this holiday season, you can make saving a life your greatest gift.

Like patients across Canada, Edmonton native, Rachelle Drummond, knows first-hand the vital role donors play in supporting lifesaving care. Rachelle was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) when she was five years old. During almost three years of intense chemotherapy she required countless blood transfusions and spent the holiday season and a birthday at the Stollery Children’s Hospital. A life-long advocate for blood donation, she is currently working toward a career in pediatric medicine.

“I am now 14 years cancer-free and so grateful to blood donors for they role they played in my recovery,” says Rachelle. “I encourage all eligible Canadians to join the community of donors that help patients like me this holiday season and onward.”

Quick Facts

  • Additional COVID-19 safety measures in place at all donor events include:
    • Wellness checkpoints that include mandatory temperature checks and screening
    • Mandatory masks and additional personal protective equipment
    • Increased and thorough environmental cleaning; and
    • Active hand hygiene and enforced physical distancing.
  • Canadian Blood Services uses two methods to obtain platelets. Pooled platelets are produced by separating platelets from whole blood after donation. This process accounts for approximately 80 per cent of the platelets we collect. Platelets can also be separated from whole blood during donation using a process called apheresis. This process yields more platelet volume per donation, but specialized equipment is required that can’t be made available as widely as a typical whole blood donation.
  • There are many ways to donate to support Canada’s Lifeline. In addition to donating blood, platelets or plasma, you can join the national stem cell registry, register to become an organ and tissue donor, or make a one-time or recurring financial donation. As a national registered charity, Canadian Blood Services welcomes financial donations prior to the Dec. 31, 2020 tax deadline.
  • If you recently recovered from COVID-19, you may also be eligible to help by donating plasma. Canadian Blood Services is part of national clinical trials currently testing if the antibodies circulating in a recent COVID-19 survivor’s plasma (called convalescent plasma) is an effective treatment option for patients with COVID-19. For more information and to sign up to participate, please see our convalescent plasma web page (

To book an appointment to help patients like Rachelle, download the GiveBlood app and join Canada’s Lifeline. Please call 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283) or book now at