One in two people in Canada are eligible to donate blood, but only one in 81 actually do.
Canadian Blood Services Community Development Manager, Brett Lawrence, says the pandemic really took a number on their donor base.
Throughout the pandemic, the number of donors across Canada who regularly donated decreased by 31,000.
Lawrence says that the need for blood is constant, and he’s thankful that Steinbach has a strong and consistent donor base.
“Before the pandemic, we were always collecting well in Steinbach, and even during the pandemic, and now in this post-pandemic atmosphere.”
He notes that thanks to cities like Steinbach, places that don’t receive as many donations still receive the blood they need since Canadian Blood Services has a National Inventory.
"So say if Manitoba is needing a certain amount of units of blood, or a certain type of blood, we could call on Alberta or Saskatchewan to ship blood in,” he says. “Luckily, despite the small donor base, we are able to continue to provide patients with blood products they need.”
He says you can expect to spend about an hour of your time with them. Although, the needle’s not in your arm the whole hour.
“It's only in there for about 10-15 minutes, and then you just made a huge impact on the lives of patients in need of blood and blood products.”
Lawrence says most people feel fine after donating blood, but he shares a few tips to make the recovery process a lot better.
“I know for me personally, I like to start hydrating 24 hours before my appointment and have a big meal before coming in,” he says. “Then afterward, continue to focus on rehydrating, having a big meal, especially salty foods, and it makes my recovery a lot easier.”
He sees both older and younger people coming in to donate, which is great because they need 100,000 new donors each year to maintain the donor base where it's at.
“So it's great when you see either grandparents or parents bringing in their kids to donate blood. So yeah, really encourage your younger family members to come out because new donors are always needed.”
You can ask your family or your friends to book an appointment and come with you.
“It can be kind of nerve-wracking doing something by yourself for the first time, especially blood donation, but if you bring friends and family with you to also donate and support you, it can be a great experience.”
The next time Canadian Blood Services are in Steinbach is December 5th.
“And just showing how dedicated the donors are in Steinbach, December 5th is actually already 100% booked.”
He says it’s a good idea to check the site closer to the date to see if some people cancel their spots.
Currently, the next available date to donate blood in Steinbach is December 19th.
“After that is January 2nd, which we could really use folks coming out, because it's the day after the New Year and we have about 61 open spots for that already.”
He notes you have to be at least 17-years-old to donate, and there is no upper age limit.
“If you are over the age of 17 and in good general health, there's a good chance that you are able to donate.”
Visit blood.ca to check out your eligibility, and make an account to book an appointment.
They have blood donor clinics in Steinbach twice a month on Mondays from 2pm-7pm.
You can also donate more than just blood with Canadian Blood Services, you can also donate stem cells.
You can enter the stem cell registry from the comfort of your own home. It all starts with visiting blood.ca and checking out their stem cells section.
From there you can order a stem cell kit and it'll be sent to your home.
“You do a saliva swab four times and put it back in the kit, and then simply stick it into a Canada Post box. After that, you'll get a confirmation letter that you were added to the registry,” he says. “Then perhaps one day, you'll be matched with a patient who would require a stem cell transplant from you.”
If you want more details on how to donate blood or stem cells, go to blood.ca, or phone 1 888 2 DONATE (1 888 236 6283).