Changes to Canadian Blood Services guidelines highlight need for new donors

Service expects to need 100,000 new donors to service

Starting Dec. 10, female blood donors in Canada will be asked to wait 84 days until their next donation, and male donors to wait 56 days, due to the need for the body to build up iron stores in the blood.

The changes came after Canadian Blood Services led research and surveys on female blood donors in 2014, and began encouraging women to wait 84 days in order for the ferritin levels in their blood stream to rise.

Peter MacDonald, director of donor relations for Atlantic Canada, said that this change was about the “health and wellness” of the individuals donating.

“The body can’t make iron, but it can store it. Your hemoglobin level can be maintained, but can be depleted due to poor iron levels.” These falling levels are why Canadian Blood Services decided to introduce the new restrictions.

When a person donates blood, the blood is not checked for iron but for hemoglobin, which is “a protein found in red blood cells which is necessary for carrying oxygen to the tissues in your body.” It is possible for a person to have normal hemoglobin levels but low iron levels, which is one of the reasons for changing the guidelines.

While there is no risk in patient safety in a patient receiving blood from someone who has low iron, MacDonald states that this change is one that “promotes health and wellness of our donors, but also promotes that new donors need to join the system.”

It is expected with these changes that the service will lose approximately 22,000 to 46,000 donors, which is between two and three per cent of their donor base.

The Canadian Blood Services works to recruit nearly 80,000 new donors each year, but with this change will now have to attempt to recruit 100,000 new donors.

On Nov. 11, Remembrance Day, the Halifax Blood Clinic on Bayers Road has a number of vacancies for donation appointments. MacDonald encourages all students to give blood on this day.

If students can’t make the trip to Bayers road, Canadian Blood Services will be in the Student Union Building at Dalhousie from Jan. 30-31.

In a recent media release, Canadian Blood Services states “one in two Canadians is eligible to donate, only one in 60 give.”

“Many donors will not be able to donate as often, so others must step forward to fill this gap by giving blood and encouraging friends and family to make giving a part of their lives.”

Donate blood to the Canadian Blood Services here or download the Give Blood app for iOS or Android.

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