Critical need for blood as inventory levels below minimum need

From paNOW
June 19, 2017 - 5:00pm

Canadian Blood Services is asking Canadians to roll up their sleeves and donate blood as national inventory levels have reached critical levels.

The country typically requires between 20 to 25,0000 units on hand at any given time, but currently only has between 12 and 14,000.

“We currently have less than three days of inventory and we normally need to have between a five and eight day supply of blood product to meet hospital demand,” Tracy Smith, associate director of donor relations in Manitoba and Saskatchewan said. “We do have a critical need for donors to come out ideally between now and Canada Day.”

Smith directed blame for the shortage at the stormy winter and wet spring, which disrupted routine donors and forced the cancellation of many clinics across the country.

Additionally, as people get busy over the summer, the act of donating blood tends to get placed on the back burner. This is why the service is attempting to top up the inventory by July 1.

In a worse case scenario, Smith said if inventory levels remain low, hospitals may be asked to reduce the amount of blood they use through delaying elective surgeries. 

“In the past, donors have stepped up and patient care has not been impacted but we are trying to forecast what might happen,” Smith added.

Despite the fact over half of the Canadian population in qualified to donate blood, only around four per cent do. She said when the service engages in recruitment at various events, the most common response for not showing up is that people have never been asked.

“I think we have some people that are a little bit scared [the first time],” she said. “I always say it is a small poke and you are saving lives. I don’t know what else you can do for an hour that will directly impact a fellow Canadian.”

In a serious car accident, a patient can require upwards of 50 units. Various surgeries can require anywhere from five to eight and Leukaemia patients can require upwards of 80 per week.

As the need for blood is constant, Smith encouraged people to visit or download their app to find upcoming clinics near them. 

“There are lots of empty appointments, that is why we are really reaching out. If we can fill these by Canada Day our inventory will be in good shape.”


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