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The need goes on #2: Transfusions to battle anemia

The red blood cells Denise Annett receives several times a year are crucial to her quality of life.

Inspiration
March 17, 2020

Denise Annett relies on red blood cell transfusions to treat severe anemia. 

Annette

Our robust donor screening and infection control practices ensure our donor centres are safe during the COVID-19 outbreak. Public health officials including Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, have joined our call to donors to book and keep appointments to save lives and prevent blood shortages. Information about our response to COVID-19 is updated daily. 

The red blood cells Denise Annett receives several times a year are crucial to her quality of life. 

“It’s all I can do to drag myself through a day when my iron gets low,” says Denise, a 56-year-old grandmother of four who lives in Port Lambton, Ont. “It feels like I haven’t slept in forever.” 

Denise first needed blood about five years ago. She needed surgery to have her gall bladder removed, but doctors couldn’t proceed because of the low level of iron in her blood. They turned to blood transfusions when iron supplements didn’t do the trick. 

Those blood products made it possible to get the surgery she needed, and the transfusions she’s received since then — approximately four times per year — give her the gift of energy.  

Giving benefits donors as well as patients during COVID-19 

Many Canadians are staying close to home to avoid the risk of COVID-19. But Canadian Blood Services’ donor centres continue to be safe and patients such as Denise are counting on donors to keep their appointments.  

Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer Of Canada, encourages people to continue donating blood. 

"We need blood donors to book and keep their appointments to prevent shortages,” said Dr. Tam in a news conference Mar. 17, 2020. “Canadian Blood Services has robust cleaning, infection control and screening practices in place to protect all donors, staff and volunteers, as does Héma-Québec.”   

Giving can also benefit donors, according to Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health. 

“Blood donation can help address the feeling of helplessness people have in the face of COVID-19,” said Dr. Hinshaw in a public statement on Mar. 16, 2020. “Gaining a sense of control by helping others can contribute to an overall sense of well-being. 

“The need for blood donors remains strong. It is safe to donate blood during COVID-19 and your donation can help save a life.”  

‘I was able to thank them for what they do’ 

Denise once had a unique chance to thank donors personally with some help from her sister Elaine St. Pierre, who happens to work at a Canadian Blood Services donor centre.  

While Denise was having a transfusion, the sisters used their mobile phones to set up a video chat. Elaine walked around the centre, phone in hand, connecting those who were giving blood with her grateful sister who was receiving it.  

“I was able to thank them for what they do, because I know how that affects my quality of life,” says Denise. “It was quite emotional. There were tears.” 

‘It might be your loved-one who needs that blood’ 

Community blood donation events have seen a spike in cancellations due to venues complying with COVID-19 requirements and reduced staffing support. 
 
Where available, donors can rebook their appointments at one of our 35 donor centres across the country. Find a donor centre near you at blood.ca/donate.  

Denise’s own next transfusion is coming up in just a few weeks. And she knows there are many other patients whose need could be even more critical, or unexpected. 

“It might be your brother, your mother or your cousin who needs that blood.” 

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