When a patient needs blood urgently, there is no substitute - supply is currently very low

By Staff

September 19th, 2023



After asking more people in Canada to donate blood and plasma this summer and despite many answering the call, distribution of blood to hospitals continues to outpace the number of donations being made—especially in Ontario, where nearly half of Canada’s population lives. 

“Canadian Blood Services sends Ontario hospitals about 7,400 units of blood per week to treat patients so it’s incredibly important that people donate blood—or other blood components, like plasma and platelets—to prevent patient care from being impacted,” says Dr. Katerina Pavenski, head of Division of Transfusion Medicine, at St. Michael’s Hospital-Unity Health Toronto and member of the National Advisory Committee on Blood and Blood Products.

“When a patient needs blood urgently, there is no substitute. Without it, lives are at stake.”

In addition to serious trauma and emergency care, blood and blood products are a critical part of everyday medical care including major surgeries, medical procedures, cancer treatments and managing diseases and disorders.

“As quickly as we collect blood, hospitals are calling for more. There are simply not enough people donating in Ontario to ensure patients’ needs will continue to be met long term,” says Mark Newburgh, director, donor relations and collections, Canadian Blood Services.

While Canadian Blood Services manages a national inventory and blood can be moved around the country, the national blood system depends on donors showing up across Canada, including people right here in Burlington.

Andrew Pateman, Vice-President, People, Culture and Performance with Canadian Blood Services.

Blood donors in Burlington help ensure hospitals in this province receive the blood they need — including the Joseph Brant Hospital, which needs more than 2,800 units of blood every year. To keep meeting the needs of patients in Burlington and elsewhere in Canada, 658 people are needed to donate blood in the next four weeks at the Burlington donor centre located at 1250 Brant Street.

There are roughly 10 million people in Ontario who are eligible to donate blood, yet only a mere fraction do—just 1.5 per cent of the population.

“Life can change in seconds, and you or someone you love may need blood urgently. It’s up to all of us to ensure we can save lives here at home,” says Newburgh.

Don’t count yourself out. Canadian Blood Services regularly updates our eligibility criteria for donating blood. You may be able to donate—even if you couldn’t before.

Go to blood.ca, download the Give Blood App or call 1-888-2-DONATE (1-888-236-6283) and book an appointment today, tomorrow and in the coming weeks.

If you cannot donate, you can still help save lives in other ways. Visit blood.ca to learn how you can make all the difference for patients and their families. You can also ask friends, family and colleagues to donate blood and share the message on social media.

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