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Region needs 200 new blood donors a month as donations plummet

Impact of the pandemic has donations at the lowest point in a decade, Canadian Blood Services reports
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In total, The Canadian Blood Services has a decreased number of donors by 31,000 people plus the regular attrition.

Canadian Blood Services reported the number of donor volunteers have plummeted to the lowest point in a decade, likely due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The organization is looking for 100,000 new donors to restore the donor base to pre-pandemic levels. 

In total, Canadian Blood Services (CBS) has seen a decrease in the number of donors by 31,000 people over and above the number of donors lost every year through attrition. 

With it being National Blood Donor Week this week, CBS is urging people who can donate to book an appointment to give blood, plasma and platelets, and help save lives. 

“We need 100,000 new donors across Canada to join Canada's lifeline this year to make up for the donors that we've lost, the 31,000 plus our regular attrition,” Teri-Mai Armstrong told Sudbury.com in a phone interview. 

Armstrong is the business development manager with Canadian Blood Services in Sudbury. “But in Sudbury, when you break that down across the nation, our target is 200. And so right now we're collecting at about 70 per cent to target and so 200 new donors a month will bump that percentage up and get us closer to target, which will then ensure that we can provide for the hospitals.” 

The Sudbury clinic only collects plasma so the amount collected can range from 550 ml to 880 ml. 

If you’ve never given blood, the process of donating starts by measuring the donor's height and weight to determine how much plasma can be given. Some patients only require one unit of plasma, while others could multiple treatments or need treatments for the rest of their lives. 

One of those patients is Heydan Morrison, a 10-year-old boy from Sault Ste. Marie. Armstrong said Sudbury.com the child must receive regularl plasma treatment for his condition. 

When Heydan was only three, he was diagnosed with hypogammaglobinemia, a condition that stunted his growth and led to numerous hospital admissions and surgeries. Regular intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) treatment, a medication made from donated plasma, allows him to be an active and healthy boy who plays sports and explores the woods. 

“[He’s] a normal kid (thanks to the treatment) is how he puts it,” Armstrong said. “He receives a big immune boost, which then gives him energy and allows him to fight off infection until his next dose.” 

Morrison will have to receive IVIG treatment for the rest of his life, and donors for plasma allow him to live a normal life as a 10-year-old boy. 

To be an eligible donor, you must weigh more than 50 kg (110 lbs), in good health and over the age of 17. For more information, visit the website here.

“We are extremely grateful to regular donors and new donors who give and have given throughout the pandemic and they really enable us to support patients. We really appreciate it and we just need the continued support. There's an immediate need and it is very important that donors come now,” Armstrong said. 

Canadian Blood Services Plasma Donor Centre is located at 900 Lasalle Blvd. in the Lasalle Court Mall.

Eden Suh is a new media reporter at Sudbury.com.