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Safe to donate blood during COVID-19 crisis: Canadian Blood Services

Urges donors to keep appointments as 'patients depend on these lifesaving donations'
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OTTAWA - Canadian Blood Services is concerned by a recent spike in appointment cancellations in several cities related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the organization responsible for the national blood system outside Quebec, we are determined to keep our promise to help every patient, match every need and serve every Canadian. To do that we require the ongoing generosity and commitment of donors.

“Patients depend on these lifesaving donations,” says Dr. Isra Levy, Canadian Blood Services’ vice-president of medical affairs and innovation. “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.”

Canadian Blood Services operates a national blood inventory where products are regularly shifted around the country to meet hospital and patient needs. The inventory is currently strong, but the recent increase in cancellations is worrying, particularly in light of the blood shortages already being reported in other countries affected by COVID-19.

Donating blood in Canada continues to be safe. Our robust cleaning and infection-control practices protect all donors, staff and volunteers. All prospective donors are also carefully screened for any symptoms of illness, including very mild ones. This screening occurs during both appointment booking and upon arrival at the donor centre or event. Those with any symptoms are not allowed to donate blood and are instructed not to visit.

“Our donor centres are islands of wellness within Canada’s health system,” says Dr. Levy, a public health expert and a former medical officer of health for the city of Ottawa. “They are not places where sick people gather.”

We urge all healthy eligible donors to book and keep appointments. The need is constant for blood, stem cells, plasma and organ and tissue donors. Canadian Blood Services adheres to the latest guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada including all recommendations for public gatherings during COVID-19. Should the agency’s recommendations change we will act immediately to keep donors safe.

More information on COVID-19 is available here. To make an appointment to donate, download the GiveBlood app, call 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283) or book now here. Walk-in appointments are also available at all locations.