The national blood services agency has issued an urgent call for donations this week, ahead of the Labour Day long weekend in September. Citing diminished stocks across the country – typical during the summer months when Canadians are enjoying the holidays – Canadian Blood Services have requested 22,000 blood donations by August 26.
The urgent call comes amidst a trend of declining donations in Elmira over the past several years.
“In Elmira specifically, we’ve been having a bit of a hard time getting donors to come out consistently to donate,” said Emma Willms, event coordinator for Canadian Blood Services in the Waterloo Region.
Over the past five years, donations have dropped by almost a third at the Elmira clinic, from a monthly average of 132 units in 2013 to just 94 units in 2017. And the trend has continued well into 2018, says Willms.
“Over the past year even it’s been difficult for us to maintain consistency, to know how many donors are going to come out each time,” she said. “Especially during the summer months we have an incredibly difficult time getting donors to any of our clinics, but in Elmira as well.”
Attracting younger people to donate more on a regular basis has been a particular challenge for the blood clinic, notes Willms.
“And with the population aging, the majority of our donor base is part of that aging population,” she says. There is no upper age limit on blood donors anymore, notes Willms, but people still need to be in good health, as well as not be on any medications that would prohibit donating blood.
“So unforunately a lot of people in the aging population are ineligible to donate. And when they become ineligible, we need to find new younger donors who are going to donate consistently to replace them.”
The Elmira clinic has also been struggling to draw in more of the non-Mennonite population to the clinics.
“They are immensely supportive,” said Willms of the traditional Mennonite population.
“From 16 weeks out from a clinic date, we look at how are numbers are pre-booking, and it’s difficult for us to understand our pre-booking numbers in communities like Elmira,” she adds. “Because not really anybody pre-books in Elmira because it’s a mostly Mennonite attended clinic.”
For residents in and around Elmira, the monthly blood donor clinic is being held tomorrow (Friday) at the Elmira Lions Hall from 2:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Donors can drop-in during those hours, or pre-book an appointment online at Canadian Blood Services, or by calling 1-888-2DONATE.
“We like to remind people that when we say that it is in you to give, and your donation is going to help save somebody’s life, we really, truly mean it,” said Willms. “The process takes about an hour out of your life, and the actual donation process is only about 10 minutes.
“So with that hour and that 10 minutes … you’re going to walk out of the clinic doors knowing that in just a few days time your blood is going to be processed, sent to a hospital, and it’s going to quite literally save somebody’s life.”