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Some delays, but Elmira blood-donor clinic helps bolster supply

Response to calls for blood donations has been strong, including the likes of the clinic held last Friday in Elmira, but Canadian Blood Services isn’t complacent.

“There is still a need for blood at this point in time, but the need across the country is actually at a very good place,” said Kersten Dupuis, donor relations territory manager for the Guelph region, cautioning that “this is a marathon, not a race.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s call to action requesting that fellow Canadians donate blood certainly helped, she noted, helping the blood supply grow to a sustainable level, but demand remains even in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis.

“We have a very healthy blood supply at the moment. When the pandemic broke, at the very beginning we saw a dip in the number of appointments as well as an increase in the amount of cancellations. The prime minister did a press release and he spoke about the remaining need for blood in this time and encouraged folks to come out.”

With blood donations being a potential difference between life and death for some Canadians, the response from host venues to continue running blood drives has been mostly positive, Dupuis noted.

“All of our places that we go to in our communities have been really supportive for us during this point and time.”

Some venues, however, were unable to remain open during the crisis, with the agency’s permanent sites seeing an uptick due to cancellation of mobile clinics.

Canadian Blood Services has been working with Public Health to lower the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Donors are being screened, not permitted to enter if they have a cough, fever or other signs of sickness. With new COVID-19 measures. people are now being asked a series of questions before entering each premise. As well, donors are now required to register online before giving blood.

Even with all the restrictions, there was a large turnout at the clinic at Lions Hall in Elmira April 24. The new social-distancing measures caused longer wait times and some frustration, prompting a few people to leave.

Generally, donors have dealt with the extra precautionary steps, and the Elmira clinic worked through the delays.

Nationally, however, Canadian Blood Services has raised concerns about a recent spike in appointment cancellations in several cities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency is urging all healthy eligible donors to book and keep appointments because the need is constant for blood, stem cells, plasma and organ and tissue donors.

More information on COVID-19 is available online. To make an appointment to donate, download the GiveBlood app, call 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283) or book online now. Walk-in appointments are no longer available.

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