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Need for blood donors critical as too few people showing up to give blood

Number of no-shows a significant problem

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/9/2014 (1059 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

With a hospital full of trauma and cancer patients across the street, the sight of an empty waiting room on a Saturday at Canadian Blood Services' donor clinic in Winnipeg is a troubling sign.

There are too few people showing up to give blood, says the agency in charge of Canada's blood supply.

Melonee Hunt is one of only a few donors to give blood at the Canadian Blood Services office Saturday.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Melonee Hunt is one of only a few donors to give blood at the Canadian Blood Services office Saturday.

"It's a national problem, not just in Manitoba," said Pamela Mullins, the agency's regional spokeswoman.

This year, Canadian Blood Services reported 133,000 appointment cancellations and 119,000 people missing their blood-donor appointments entirely.

"Just over 50 per cent of our people booking appointments aren't showing up," said Mullins.

On a Saturday, they need to screen about 120 potential donors to get 96 units of blood, said clinic supervisor Heather Mills. For example, some donors' iron is too low or they're under the weather and don't pass the screening process, the nurse said.

Melonee Hunt was one of about a half-dozen people screened and giving blood mid-morning at the William Avenue clinic.

"I have a very high iron count," said the Swan River resident.

Giving blood is supposed to help lower the amount of iron in her blood, Hunt said. She just started giving blood this summer, and her last donation was Aug. 4.

There is a big push on to get people to donate blood and encourage donors to make appointments and keep them, said Mullins. Keeping the blood supply pumping is a matter of life or death.

"People need to understand that if you don't come in, someone else is not filling in your time slot, and the blood is not being delivered," she said.

When the need for blood goes up, it's often at a time when the number of donors goes down.

"All long weekends are always a challenge, just in terms of people who leave the city and go on vacation."

Summertime and holidays when people are on the road or kicking back are also times when more accidents happen and more blood is needed.

With Thanksgiving and the festive season coming up, there needs to be more blood donated.

"We'd love nothing more than to see our clinics completely booked and full," said Mullins.

"For the next four weeks, 500 appointments are still available" at the permanent clinic across from Health Sciences Centre, she said.

She urged donors in Manitoba to take the time to call for an appointment or go online and find a mobile blood donor clinic near them.

"I understand life happens, but it's a big concern," Mullins said. "There's always a constant need... If you are a donor, bring family members along."

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Read more by Carol Sanders.

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