‘Worrying’ rise in blood donation cancellations: Canadian Blood Services

TORONTO — Canadian Blood Services says there has been a “worrying” spike in cancellations of appointments to donate blood amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday, the non-profit charity which is responsible for the national blood system outside of Quebec, made a public plea to donors asking them to book and keep appointments. The organization said there is a constant need for blood, stem cells, plasma, and organ and tissue donors.

“Patients depend on these lifesaving donations,” Dr. Isra Levy, Canadian Blood Services’ vice-president of medical affairs and innovation, said in a press release. “Every day they are needed for patients undergoing surgery and cancer treatment, as well as to save lives following traumas such as motor vehicle accidents.”

While the organization said their current inventory of blood is “strong,” that can quickly change.

“The recent increase in cancellations is worrying, particularly in light of the blood shortages already being reported in other countries affected by COVID-19,” the press release said.

Canadian Blood Services also attempted to reassure donors by detailing the extra measures they’re taking to protect against the new coronavirus.

“Donating blood in Canada continues to be safe. Our robust cleaning and infection-control practices protect all donors, staff and volunteers,” the charity said. “All prospective donors are also carefully screened for any symptoms of illness, including very mild ones.”

What’s more, the organization said potential donors are screened when they book their appointment and when they arrive at the donor centre. Those who exhibit symptoms at either of these times are barred from donating blood and visiting the centre.

“Our donor centres are islands of wellness within Canada’s health system,” Levy said. “They are not places where sick people gather.”

Canadian Blood Services said they’re adhering to the latest guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada regarding public gatherings during the pandemic.

“Should the agency’s recommendations change we will act immediately to keep donors safe,” the organization said.

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