Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Why can’t you donate blood on the Sunshine Coast?

There is no current plan to extend services to the Sunshine Coast

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Donating blood is one way Canadians can help save a life. From 2022 to 2023 there were 767,000 blood donations across Canada, according to Canadian Blood Services’ annual report, roughly 2,000 more than the previous year.

However, if you live on the Sunshine Coast, there is nowhere to donate blood.

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Craig Nielsen, community development manager for Canadian Blood Services, said he has seen many blood donors who have travelled from the coast to the downtown Vancouver donor centres where he works — including one man who’s been making the trip for the last 50 years.

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“It’s amazing to see some of the support that people on the Sunshine Coast and more remote parts of Vancouver Island are still dedicated to,” he said.

Some on the coast may wonder why it’s not possible to donate blood locally.

Several factors determine where blood services hold donation events, said Nielsen. These include the number of units of blood that can be collected in an area, labour and transportation costs, and distance and access to the nearest blood production site. The closest such sites are in Vancouver.

These factors are assessed at a national level in order to operate an efficient blood system.

Storing and transporting blood safely is a complicated process, explained Nielsen, adding that blood only has a shelf life of 42 days before it becomes unusable.

This shelf life is even shorter for certain blood products such as platelets, which only last seven days.

For those travelling off the Coast to donate, the nearest donation centre is the Congregation Har El, in West Vancouver at 1305 Taylor Way.

Donors can find a full list of mobile locations, as well as the Canadian Blood Services schedule, online.

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“We recognize and are so thankful to many of the donors that continue to donate, whether it be from afar with volunteering or financial donations, or the individuals that take the time, spend the money and actually travel over to donate because just as anybody donating to any centre across Canada, they’re saving a life by doing that,” Nielsen said.

While there is no current plan to extend services to the Sunshine Coast, Nielsen maintains that Canadian Blood Services will continue to figure out how to service more communities in the coming years.

Nielsen also clarified that although Canadian Blood Services does not collect blood on the Sunshine Coast, there is no impact on how hospitals in the area receive blood and blood products such as plasma or stem cells.

Nielsen highlighted some of the many ways to support Canadian Blood Services other than donating blood.

Acts like joining the stem cell registry if one is eligible, becoming an organ or tissue donor, volunteering time or providing financial support.

Jordan Copp, is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with the Coast Reporter. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada

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