Filipino blood donors asked to roll up sleeves
Blood is critical to our survival. Its important functions enable us to live a healthy, meaningful life. Unfortunately, due to many factors, some people need to receive blood donations from other people. Hence, Canadian Blood Services (CBS) must often make appeals for life-saving blood and plasma donations.
Pilipino Express recently spoke with Brett Lawrence, the Community Development Manager for Donor Relations & Collections at Canadian Blood Services.
PE: Tell us about the CBS event coming up this month.
Brett: During the month of February, we have over 1,600 open appointments to fill at 777 William Avenue to help patients in need.
PE: How are the current national and provincial blood inventories?
Brett: Canadian Blood Services continues to meet the needs of patients in Manitoba and all over Canada. We have seen an increase in donations and pre-booked appointments across the country since December when we called for donors to fill 25,000 open appointments by the end of the year. We have also returned to our normal operations and can safely distribute blood products.
The strong response from blood, plasma and platelet donors helped replenish several key blood groups. However, the inventory of blood and blood products is still not where it needs to be. More donors are needed to restore the blood supply to an optimal level and grow Canada’s plasma supply.
It is important to remember that the reason Canadian Blood Services can supply the life-saving products to patients is because of people giving about an hour their time and rolling up their sleeves to donate. All over the country people are doing this. Strangers are helping strangers. There is always a need for blood. We need 100,000 new donors each year to come into one of our donor centres to offer their help and maintain the national donor base.
PE: In Manitoba, what are the factors influencing or hindering people to donate blood?
Brett: Winter is a challenging time to collect blood, platelets, and plasma. Winter activities and weather impacts in Manitoba and other parts of Canada, and an influx of seasonal viruses and illness often disrupts donor attendance.
PE: Is there a particular type of blood that is most needed now?
Brett: All blood types are needed and can be used to help patients in need.
O-negative blood donors are especially needed because this blood type can be transfused to any patient. In times of emergency or for newborn patients, O-negative blood, the universal blood type, makes a lifesaving difference.
Regular blood donations are also needed to ensure platelets are available.
PE: Do blood donations expire?
Brett: Red blood cells have a shelf life of 42 days and platelets have a shelf life of seven days. Platelets are a vital blood component. One of the most common uses for platelets is to treat cancer patients. Therefore, it’s so important that people continue to come in to donate to replenish the blood supply.
PE: Is there a particular need for blood donations from the Filipino community?
Brett: Canadian Blood Services is looking for donors of all ethnic backgrounds to help meet the needs of patients in Canada. Blood type is related to ethnicity, and types that are more common in other countries may be rare in Canada.
Filipino donors are uniquely positioned to help patients who need a specific rare blood type called Jk3. Jk3 is one of the most difficult rare blood types to match, which is one reason Canadian Blood Services is always seeking blood donors of Filipino and Polynesian descent. The rarer a person’s blood type, the more difficult it is to find a donor if that person suddenly needs matched rare blood for a transfusion.
If both your parents are of Filipino descent, please check your eligibility online at blood.ca/eligibility. If you’re eligible, please book an appointment using blood.ca, by calling 1-888-2-DONATE (1-888-236-6283) or by downloading the GiveBlood app.
Canadian Blood Services’ Rare Blood Program strives to ensure that rare blood is available for anyone in need. Once you’ve booked an appointment, please send your full name and date of birth, as well as the date, time, and location of your appointment to email@example.com. This will help us identify your donation for additional testing. If your blood is Jk3, we will send you a letter to inform you. Even if it’s not, you are a match for another patient in need and we hope that you will continue donating.
Make blood donation a part of your life
Canadian Blood Services is responsible for operating a safe, secure, and affordable national blood system that ensures access to blood and blood products in Canada. Donations to our national inventory system can go to any patient in all provinces and territories outside of Quebec.
CBS and the Pilipino Express encourages donors to return to donate, to be an advocate for blood donation, and to bring in their friends or family to donate along with them.
Brett: We ask new and current donors to make blood, plasma, and platelet donations a regular part of their life, to re-book their next appointment today, and to keep donating in 2023.
Everyone who can is encouraged to donate. Ask a family member, friend, or colleague to book an appointment to donate at the same time as you. You can also donate as a group by joining or starting a Partners for Life team. Together, you can make donating blood or plasma a new meaningful tradition.
Visit blood.ca, use the GiveBlood app, or call 1-888-2-DONATE (1-888-236-6283) to find and blook an appointment at a donor centre near you.
– Lucille Nolasco-Garrido