LIFESAVING HABIT: Canadians asked to roll up their sleeves and give blood

Steve Raizen, territory manager for Canadian Blood Services in Winnipeg, at its donation centre on William Avenue on Monday. Kevin King / Kevin King/Winnipeg Sun

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Canadian Blood Services is asking more than 22,000 people to donate blood by Aug. 26, just in time for Labour Day weekend and one of CBS’s most challenging times of the year.

The number of unfilled appointments across the country is on the high side this year as the last long weekend of the season approaches.

The need for blood during the summer months is challenging given the season.

“Giving blood is a lifesaving habit that will make a real difference in a stranger’s life,” said Rick Prinzen, CBS’s chief supply chain officer and vice-president of donor relations. “New donors are fundamental to meeting Canada’s blood needs over the longer term. If every donor brings a friend to donate, or encourages others to give life, they can have a tremendous impact on the supply system. We are urging people to donate by Aug. 26.”

Steve Raizen, CBS’s territory manager for Manitoba, said the hustle and bustle of summer holidays often result in fewer donations.

In a typical month, Raizen said the province needs around 1,000 donations of blood per week to meet hospital demands.

Filling appointment times, which 1,140 are needed between now and Aug. 26 in the province, is a tall task at this time of year.

“There is a bit of a gap currently at the moment,” Raizen said. “Generally, Manitobans are really dedicated to coming out to donate, but we’re looking for people to be more active in donating during this time period.”

Raizen said giving blood is quick and easy, with appointments for first-time donators taking no more than 75 minutes.

“It’s easier than people think,” Raizen said.

The process includes registration, a questionnaire, a screening process. The actual donation time takes roughly 10 minutes, where 454 ml of blood is extracted. Donors are given a resting period, get some juice and cookies and are then free to leave.

“It’s an hour of your time that directly saves lives,” Raizen said.

A man can give blood safely every 56 days while a woman can donate every 84.

“Our goal, as we grow our donator base, would be to have people donate one or twice a year,” Raizen said. “Half of us know somebody in our lifetime that will need blood or blood products,” Raizen said. “Fifty per cent of Canadians are eligible to donate, but only one-in-60 do, or about 4% of the population.”

More information on giving and where to give can be found at blood.ca

sbilleck@postmedia.com

Twitter: @scottbilleck

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