City answers desperate call for blood donations

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The people of St. Albert are stepping up to the plate as Canadian Blood Services is putting out a desperate Canada-wide call for blood donations.

CBS needs 22,000 units of blood before Aug. 26 to meet increasing demand.

Gloria Lovsin of St. Albert was among an estimated 130 people who turned out to the Aug. 15 mobile clinic at St. Albert Inn & Suites following the organization’s urgent plea earlier this week.

Lovsin said she has donated blood as often as possible for several years because she understands the impact. Her daughter was diagnosed with leukemia at a young age and needed regular blood transfusions as a part of her chemotherapy treatment.

“When something really hits home like that, you realize the importance of it all,” she said.

Lovsin’s daughter just turned 19 and is now living a healthy life. Still, recalling the memory brought tears to the woman’s eyes.

A Canadian Blood Services spokesperson, who attended the St. Albert clinic, said the goal is to collect 192 units of blood from city residents at two different mobile clinics before the Labour Day long weekend.

St. Albert has a good track record for donations, said Nicole Russell, CBS’s territory manager for donor relations.

She said so far this year they’ve collected 1,726 units – the year’s target is 1,748.

“Initially when we went out with this call, we had 60 appointments at the clinic and, within a day, half of them were filled. That’s amazing,” Russell said.

Ongoing need

CBS prefers to keep at least five to eight days of blood in supply. However, certain blood types (such as O-positive, O-negative and A-negative) are below the five-day threshold. The problem is summer activities and long weekend vacations keep donors away or busy. There’s enough blood on the shelf to meet patient demand today, but CBS needs to increase the supply heading into the long weekend to continue to meet demand.

According to the organization, one in two Canadians will either need blood or know someone who will at some point in their lives. One in two Canadians is eligible to donate. Yet only one in 60 donate.

Russell said there are two common misconceptions that keep people from donating. First, people think that it’s too difficult. In reality, the entire process (including a screening with a nurse) takes about an hour. It takes between five to 10 minutes to draw blood.

“Another misconception is that people think they aren’t able to donate. It’s called self-deferring.”

Russell recommends people check their eligibility through CBS’s different resources. An eligibility quiz is available online, going through travel, medication, tattoos and piercing concerns. In the past, donors waited six months after getting a tattoo or piercing before donating again. Now they only wait three months.

“That opens up the doors to a lot of people who want to donate. So check online. It’s really easy to do and you are directly saving people’s lives.”

Another mobile clinic will be held in St. Albert on Friday, Aug. 24. It will take place at Century Casino (24 Boudreau Rd.) from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Twenty-nine appointments were open as of Aug. 17. However, Russell said she anticipates St. Albertans will quickly fill those spots.

For more information, call 1-888-2DONATE or visit www.blood.ca.

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Jasmine Roy