Canadian Blood Services in need of donors: what you need to know during COVID-19

Canadian Blood Services (CBS) implements important changes for donating blood during COVID-19 social restrictions.

The onset of COVID-19 has negatively affected Canadian Blood Services. 

“We recorded recent increase in appointment cancellations related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The recent increase in cancellations is worrying, but we must reassure and encourage donors to continue to book and keep their appointments to maintain a healthy national blood inventory,” said Tammy Maroudas, territory manager for CBS. 

They have seen a decrease in donors while the need for blood remains the same.  

“The need for blood will remain strong over the next few weeks and months ahead. Donated blood lasts no longer than 42 days. Platelets have a shelf life of only seven days. To ensure we can continue to meet the needs of patients in Canada, we need everyone who is healthy to book and keep their blood donation appointment for weeks and months ahead,” said Maroudas.   

Due to COVID-19, CBS has made changes to their operating procedures. Right now they can only welcome donors who have made an appointment.

Only healthy individuals are eligible to donate blood. As always, anyone ill is asked to stay home, but there has also been a change in eligibility requirements due to COVID-19.

According to Maroudas, the recent updates include:

Anyone who has been asked to place themselves under quarantine or self-isolation will be deferred for 14 days from the date of their last suspected contact with the COVID-19 infection.

Anyone in close contact with someone suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 will be deferred for 14 days after the infected person’s recovery. 

And donors with confirmed cases of COVID-19 will be deferred for 56 days after full recovery from the infection.

For those concerned about social distancing requirements, scheduling appointments helps to comply with public health recommendations by minimizing the number of people in the clinic at a time. 

According to Maroudas, they have also implemented health checks through a pre-screening questionnaire at the entrance to clinics.

“In addition, we’ve established wellness checkpoints at the entrances of our donor centres and continue to ensure robust cleaning and infection-control practices, including increased cleaning frequency of surfaces and equipment.”

For staff and donor safety, employees must monitor their health, do the health checkpoints and travelling employees are expected to self-isolate for 14 days. In addition to these measures, staff will have surgical masks available to them, be required to wear gloves and they will be implementing physical barriers when they can not physically distance. 

According to Canadian Blood Services, gathering bans do not apply to blood donor centres during a State of Emergency. This is due to CBS importance of providing life saving blood. These clinics are not social or recreational, they are life saving. 

If anyone is feeling helpless at this time, blood donation may help by allowing donors to gain a sense of control during this situation. This can help to contribute to an overall sense of wellbeing.   

According to CBS, current evidence indicates COVID-19 is not transmitted by blood or blood products. So, following the outlined precautions donors are welcome to help sustain this life saving need.

“Since our call for support on March 16, we have seen a notable increase in blood donations that has helped maintain the blood inventory in the short term, and we thank donors for their generosity. But this effort is a marathon, not a sprint. I urge donors to book appointments over the next few weeks to help maintain an adequate level of blood and blood products for patients in Canada,” said Maroudas. 

For the latest information on preventive measures, visit blood.ca/COVID19.

If individuals are in good health, please book and honour appointment to help patients. Download the GiveBlood app, call 18882DONATE (1-888-236-6283) or book now at blood.ca.

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