Canada’s blood supply at new low: CBS

Written by Javed Iqbal

Canadian Blood Services (CBS) has only three days of O+ and O blood types along with only five days of A+, A and B blood types as of Friday, according to its website.

The agency says donations become “especially needed” when the supply of these blood types falls below eight days.

In June, CBS said it had reached its goal smallest donor base in a decade and has struggled to rebuild a critically low national supply since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Since July 1, collections have been steadily declining,” CBS said in an emailed statement to CTVNews.ca on Friday.

The agency announced this in July necessary to complete 57,000 donation agreements slots in late August, shortly after facing backlash that same month for removing its mandatory face mask policy.

The move has some donors saying they are considering canceling or postponing upcoming appointments.

“Based on our current deal orders, we anticipate that we will not meet our collection goal of 3,000 units in the coming week,” CBS said in the email. “This equates to a 17 percent decrease in the national blood product stock.”

CBS attributes the drop in donations to a drop in accessibility for potential donors.

“People in Canada are enjoying a return to pre-pandemic activities and summer travel, giving them less time to donate,” CBS said.

Additionally, CBS currently does not accept donations from gay and bisexual men, as well as some other people in the LGBTQ2S+ community, unless they have been abstinent for three months.

Despite Health Canada authorizes CBS to move away from the general ban in Aprilhas the national blood donor organization not yet committed to screening all donors based on higher risk sexual behavior, regardless of gender or sexuality.

The agency says it plans to introduce the new behavior-based questionnaire approach “no later than” September 30.

There is also an ongoing anemia crisis taking place in the United States. The American Red Cross announced in January that this is the case is facing its worst anemia in over a decade amid an increase in Omicron cases leading to “low donor participation,” the agency says.

“While some types of medical treatment can wait, others cannot,” said Dr. Pampee Young, chief medical officer of the Red Cross, in a press release at the time.

“We are doing everything we can to increase blood donations to ensure that every patient can receive medical treatments without delay, but we cannot do it without more donors.”

According to Red Cross Blood Services, there is a one-year shelf life for frozen plasma, a 42-day shelf life for red blood cells and a five-day shelf life for platelets for donations.

CBS says there are 57,000 open appointments to be filled by the end of August across Canada.

Anyone wishing to donate blood to CBS is asked to make an appointment at their website.

“It is important to remember that the need for blood, plasma and platelets is constant,” CBS said in the email. “Cancer patients, victims of accidents and trauma, people undergoing surgery and people with blood disorders rely on blood, platelets and plasma transfusions every day.”

With files from The Canadian Press

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Javed Iqbal

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