Donate joy: lifesaving blood and plasma donations will give families a reason to celebrate this holiday season
DECEMBER 19, 2023 (OTTAWA) – More than 31,000 blood and plasma donors are needed across Canada before January 7, to ensure patients in hospitals have the life essentials they depend on.
“Over the next few weeks, every available appointment needs to be filled so that hospitals can receive the blood and blood products they need,” said Ron Vezina, vice-president of public affairs for Canadian Blood Services. “Amid the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, people have the chance to do something meaningful by donating blood or plasma. It’s something that can change lives.”
The last two weeks of December and the first week of January are especially challenging for Canadian Blood Services. As regular schedules are disrupted, and people are busy with holiday plans, some may not realize that donor centres are open and that donors are needed even when other services and activities are paused. Blood products are perishable and need to be collected consistently to ensure there is a fresh supply.
Platelets — which are part of every blood donation — have a shelf life of only seven days. They are a vital component of blood and are commonly used in treatment for cancer patients. To make sure there is a steady supply throughout the remainder of the year and going into the new year, every donation appointment needs to be filled when the donor centres are open.
“Many of our centres are open on Dec. 24 and 31, and Jan. 1 so that we can collect what is needed. We are asking you to make time to help patients and their families this holiday season,” said Ron. “Giving a part of yourself to help others is a special thing. Make it part of your tradition and help fill this fundamental need by booking an appointment to donate blood or plasma this month.”
Booking an appointment to donate has never been easier. With self-serve options on blood.ca and the GiveBlood app, donors can select the time and location that is most convenient for them; a helpful option for people who are travelling within Canada and want to make donating part of their plans.
Donating blood or plasma is a small act of kindness that can make all the difference for patients in your community, and right across Canada.
This time last year, Alicia Perera-Thomas and her husband Marvin Thomas were preparing to welcome their third child, Rashaun, while juggling their usual holiday preparations and traditions — like a school concert — with their other two children.
Early in Alicia’s pregnancy, doctors told her that she had developed antibodies, which meant she would need to be closely monitored. When she reached the seventh month of pregnancy, her healthcare team began monitoring the blood flow from placenta to the baby’s brain multiple times each week.
On December 22, 2022 during one of these routine appointments, Alicia learned that she would need to deliver her baby right away — ahead of term.
“The antibodies were attacking his red blood cells, which were limiting the amount of oxygen that was going to his brain. Right then and there they said he needed to be delivered,” said Alicia. “A few days later he had to have a blood transfusion to increase his oxygen red blood cell count. That was the first one. A few weeks later he had a second transfusion.”
One year later and Alicia and Marvin are celebrating joy, grateful that donors had made the time to donate last December so that the blood their son needed was available when he needed it. Together with friends and family, they are committing to giving back, to help other people who may need blood or blood products this holiday season.
“Because of the experience we went through, it really raised the importance of donating blood,” said Marvin. “For Rashaun’s birthday, we’ve got 27 people signed up who are going to be donating blood with us on December 23. I’m especially excited because I’m from the UK, and now I can donate blood in Canada.”
Historic change opens the door for newly eligible donors
Canadian Blood Services recently announced that Health Canada approved a long-awaited eligibility change. In early December, eligibility criteria for blood, plasma and platelet donation was updated for those who lived or spent time in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, or France during the 1980s and 1990s.
In fact, Canadian Blood Services regularly updates eligibility criteria for donating blood and plasma. Even if you couldn’t donate before – you might be able to now, so don’t count yourself out. People interested in donating are encouraged to visit Canadian Blood Services’ website to learn more.
There are many ways to support Canada’s Lifeline. Become a blood, platelet, or plasma donor. Join the stem cell registry and register your intent to donate organs and tissues, make a financial gift, or volunteer your time. When you give, you can help save a life and make the holiday season brighter.
To book the next available blood or plasma donation appointment, visit blood.ca, download the GiveBlood app, or call 1-888-2DONATE (1-888-236-6283). Same day appointments are often available.
It takes thousands of blood and plasma donors to save the lives of patients across Canada. When you are part of Canada’s Lifeline, giving a little means a lot.
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