Honouring donors during National Blood Donor Week with gratitude from the patients they've saved

JUNE 6, 2024 (OTTAWA) – As National Blood Donor Week (June 9-15) approaches, Canadian Blood Services is honouring donors with heartfelt thanks from the patients whose lives have been forever changed by their acts of kindness. 

“Each day, donors across Canada take a small amount of time out of their busy lives to give blood,  plasma or platelets, but the impact of their contribution is immeasurable,” said Ron Vezina, vice president, donor engagement and corporate reputation, Canadian Blood Services. "For patients, this translates into moments reclaimed — moments to live a full life, be with their family and thrive in their communities.” 

Kathleen Zavarise is all too familiar with how quickly moments can slip away. Just over a year ago, a failing kidney and the wait for an organ transplant led to many blood transfusions — starting with once a month, and soon leading to several each week. “I was told to get my affairs in order, and spend time with my family because I was going to die,” said Kathleen. 

In March 2023, in a surgery that required even more blood transfusions, Kathleen received a new liver and kidney from a donor. Today, she is busy making up for lost time, enjoying moments that were made possible from the generosity of donors. “I treat every day as a gift, a chance to make a difference and live with purpose in honour of blood donors and the legacy of my organ donor.” Read Kathleen’s story here

“Donors were there for Kathleen when she needed them, but this is just one patient of many who need blood or plasma for emergencies or everyday treatment,” adds Vezina. “While we are taking this week to thank donors, we are also reminding everyone that the need for blood and plasma is constant. Even though about half of people in Canada are eligible to donate, only about two per cent are actively donating to meet the needs of patients throughout the country. Donors play a lead role in saving lives. Take the time to fit donation into your summer plans, so that patients can enjoy their summer, too." 

Recognizing donors throughout the month of June 

Legislated by the Government of Canada in 2008, National Blood Donor Week recognizes and celebrates donors who selflessly help their fellow citizens. World Blood Donor Day falls on Friday, June 14.    

Throughout June, Canadian Blood Services will be recognizing selfless donors who have made all the difference for patients. At donor centres and mobile events from June 3-30 (or while supplies last), donors will be wrapped in words of appreciation — quite literally. Donors will receive limited edition arm bandage wraps adorned with messages from those whose lives have been saved or touched by blood or plasma donation. This arm bandage is a special reminder and keepsake of how donors are ‘extraordinary, incredible and kind’ in the words of patients. 

Mayors across the country are showing their support by encouraging their communities to donate. To mark National Blood Donor Week, many landmarks in Canada will be lit red to acknowledge donors and remind people that blood and plasma donors are needed every day.   

In addition to booking appointments this summer, donors and recipients are invited to share their connection to Canada’s Lifeline on their social media channel(s). Tag us @CanadasLifeline and use the hash tags #CanadasLifeline #NBDW2024.     

To learn more about how to honour the inspiring connection between donors and recipients this National Blood Donor Week, please visit blood.ca/NBDW.   

Thousands of new donors joined Canada’s Lifeline — thousands more are needed 

Recent eligibility changes have opened the doors for individuals who previously may not have been able to donate. More than 10,000 new donors have joined Canada’s Lifeline due to eligibility changes related to historical travel in the UK, Ireland, and France during the 'mad cow' outbreak. More than 1,000 have been welcomed following changes to the waiting period after cancer treatment. 

Eligibility criteria are continuously reviewed and updated, meaning you may be eligible now even if you weren't before. With more than 100,000 new donors needed every year, every donation will help a patient in need. 

Every 60 seconds, someone in Canada needs blood, and with a limited shelf life of just 42 days, regular donations are essential. A trauma patient or accident victim could need up to 50 units of blood in an emergency situation to help them survive. Those living with chronic health conditions may need hundreds of units of blood or plasma over many months or years to live a healthy life.  

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.  

To join the community of generous donors in this country, download the GiveBlood app, visit blood.ca, or call 1 888 2DONATE (1-888-236-6283) and book an appointment today.   

For more information, please contact: