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Canada  

'Steadily decreasing': Canadian Blood Services in urgent need of 'O' type donations

Blood supply running low

Donor appointments appear to be on a downward slide, and Canadian Blood Services is taking a hit.

According to its national inventory, there are only three days worth of O+ and O- blood available across the country. When the inventory goes below eight days, these types are especially needed.

A+, A- and B- are at five days, while B+ is currently at six days.

AB+ and AB- supplies are both high-marked at 17 and 10 days respectively.

Canadian Blood Services spokesperson Delphine Denis explained it can be a challenge when levels hit three or four days, but they can replenish the supply quickly with the help of new and returning donors.

There are 57,000 open appointments that must be filled by the end of this month across Canada. Based on current bookings, they forecast they will fall short of the collections target of 3,000 units in the coming week.

They also need 100,000 new donors this year to keep up with demand.

"Summer is always a challenging time for collections and this is the first summer since 2019 where there are no/very few restrictions on travel and activities," Denis said in a statement.

"People in Canada are enjoying the return to pre-pandemic activities and summer travel, leaving them with less time to donate.This has been compounded with the availability of fewer in-person community events to recruit new and returning donors; ongoing illness and isolation requirements related to COVID-19; heat-related weather impacts."

She added, since July 1, collections have been "steadily decreasing."

"We urge new and returning blood, platelet, and plasma donors to book and keep appointments."

On July 25, Canadian Blood Services announced it was removing its mandatory mask-wearing and physical distance requirements.

"Although not required, masks help curb the spread of COVID-19 and are welcome in our environments and available to anyone who chooses to wear one," a tweet from the non-profit reads.

The announcement was met with backlash from the public, with many saying they were cancelling their already booked appointments until the previously mandatory COVID-19 measures are brought back.

"I just donated last week, but I guess I'll need to cancel the appointment I've made in September to make my 137th donation," Scott Piatkowski tweeted.

"Let me know when you've reinstated your masking requirements."

"This is disappointing news and I have cancelled my booked donation on August 10 as a result," Brenna Clarke Gray tweeted.

When asked by Glacier Media if the decision to remove mask and physical distancing requirements has led to a large decrease in appointments, particularly in the Lower Mainland, Canadian Blood Services said as a community setting, they're able to shift from mandatory to optional measures.

"Canadian Blood Services has suspended mandatory physical distancing and masking in our buildings, vehicles, and collections events," an emailed statement reads. "Although no longer required, masks are welcome in our environments and are available to anyone who chooses to wear one. We continue to ensure that surgical masks and N95s are available to staff, volunteers, visitors and donors.

"Since the beginning of the pandemic, Canadian Blood Services' approach has been cautious and measured. All decisions have been made in consultation with our medical and epidemiology experts and, at minimum, meeting applicable public health requirements. Canadian Blood Services is a unique organization. Although we provide life-saving products to hospitals, we are not a hospital or healthcare setting.

"As a community setting, we are able to shift from mandatory to optional measures. In recent months we have seen restrictions being eased in many other community venues. This can happen because the majority of Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19, and illness now caused by COVID-19 is far less severe in most cases."

Canadian Blood Services says it will reintroduce mandatory masks and physical distancing if it becomes necessary.



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