There is an annual need in Canada for 800,000 units of blood, according to Lilet Raffinan, Canadian Blood Services territory manager for Mississauga, Brampton, Georgetown, Oakville and Etobicoke. The slogan is “it’s in you to give.”
“One in two Canadians is eligible to give blood, but only one in 60 does. Every 60 seconds someone somewhere in Canada needs blood. It is a constant reminder for Canadians to come and donate blood,” Raffinan said.
“We’re encouraging all eligible Canadians to make a life-saving donation … (to) remind Canadians that every day there is a need for blood.
“All blood types are needed, but in particular O negative because it is used for trauma, car accidents or gunshot wounds. O neg is used when the (doctors) do not have a chance to check your blood type. It’s a universal donor.”
There are some eligibility requirements before someone can give blood. The minimum age is 17, and donations cannot be made by people who have body piercings or tattoos for the past six months. There are also certain countries outside of Canada and the U.S. that prohibit giving blood until a minimum of 21 days upon returning home.
Raffinan said giving blood is a fairly simple procedure that takes about 45 minutes beginning with registering if you are a first-time donor (regular donors are given identification cards). That is followed by answering an online questionnaire, followed by a pin-prick test for iron. After that, donors are seated in a comfortable reclining lounge chair and hooked up to a machine that takes a unit of blood from a vein. There are television monitors for donors to watch and magazines to read. Nurses are constantly monitoring it all.
“You tend to forget what is happening. The next thing you know it’s done and you save lives,” Raffinan said.
After it is over, donors are encouraged to raise their sugar levels with juice and cookies that are provided. From start to finish it takes 45 minutes.
For more information www.blood.ca.
Photo: Writer Perry Lefko gives blood regularly.