Although blood donations tend to diminish during the summer months when many potential donors are traveling and enjoying recreational activities with family and friends, Lloydminster continues to give, according to Canadian Blood Services.
“The donors there have been extremely loyal,” said Susan Matsumoto, director of donor relations for Canadian Blood Services. “For the most part, there isn’t a significant dip in the summer.”
However, the picture isn’t totally clean. While Canadian Blood Services receives a steady dose of blood from the Lloydminster area, the organization isn’t necessarily seeing the steady dose of donors it would like.
“It seems like the number of people who donate has been dropping,” Matsumoto said. “It was much stronger - for instance, five years ago, than it seems to be right now. It would be great if new individuals would consider donating blood.”
Medical patients may require blood in a number of instances, including after “routine” surgeries. For example, patients usually require two to three units of blood following a hip replacement surgery. Cancer patients, meanwhile, may need up to eight units of blood on a regular basis for a prolonged period of time.
In fact, it can take up to 50 donors to help save somebody who has been in a motor vehicle accident. Accidents are much more frequent in the summer months than they are during other parts of the year, which leads to significant challenges for Canadian Blood Services in July and August.
“Some blood products have really limited shelf life, and platelets, in particular, which is responsible for clotting blood, only have a five-day shelf life,” Matsumoto said. “Because of things like that, blood needs to be collected regularly every day, every week.”
Canadian Blood Services has the greatest need for O-negative blood, which is often referred to as the “universal” blood type. That blood can be transfused into anyone, and is especially important in cases where a patient requires blood immediately.
“For instance, if you are in an accident and there isn’t time to figure out what your blood type is, it’s O-negative blood that’s given to you,” said Matsumoto.
At minimum, Canadian Blood Services must collect 16,000 units of blood each week to meet the needs of patients. However, the organization aims to maintain an inventory of 20,000 to 30,000 units of blood at all times.
Canadian Blood Services arranges blood donation appointments through its website (www.blood.ca) or its GiveBlood mobile application, which is free to download. Potential donors may also call 1-888-2-DONATE.