Canadian Blood Services is calling on Edmontonians to fill nearly 2,000 open donation appointments through July to replenish the blood supply and meet increasing demand.
Jennifer Gretzan, associate director for donor relations in Edmonton, said easing of COVID-19 restrictions on medical procedures that were on hold has increased the need for blood products in the city and across Canada. This demand partnered with a lower uptake of appointments has left the blood clinic in immediate need.
“As provinces start to open up and phase in their reopening plans, we’re seeing an increased demand for blood products above pre-COVID levels as hospitals ramp up surgical procedures that were put on hold during the pandemic,” she said in an interview with Postmedia Friday.
With summer upon us and COVID-19 restrictions easing, Gretzan said there are fewer appointments being booked and attendance at collection centres is starting to slip at the same time that hospitals are tackling a backlog of medical procedures requiring blood.
“Along with the rise in demand for blood products, we’re also seeing attendance start to slip at our collection events. Canadians are staring to venture out and maybe blood donation isn’t as top of mind. So we’re urging eligible blood donors to book appointments and keep their appointments over the summer months to ensure we can meet patient needs.”
This concern isn’t specific to Edmonton, Gretzan said, noting that 23,000 donors are needed across Canada by July 31 to boost the supply.
In addition to the increased demand, the summer season often translates into a higher number of accidents on roads with the greater potential for injuries requiring blood transfusions.
While all blood types will go a long way, Gretzan said there is always a specific need for donors with O-negative blood, known as the universal blood type, where the blood is compatible with everyone.
“When seconds count when someone’s life is on the line in an emergency situation and there’s no time to check the patient’s blood type, hospitals will receive O-negative blood in that emergency,” she said.
Appointments are still required to donate blood and COVID-19 protocols are uniformly in place across the country throughout the summer to ensure the wellbeing of donors and volunteers.
There are several mobile clinics throughout the city and surrounding municipalities as well as Edmonton’s main clinic near the University of Alberta hospital with appointments almost every day. Eligible Edmontonians can book an appointment through the GiveBlood app, online or by calling 1-888-236-6283.