Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows residents are stepping up in numbers to donate blood during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to donors, the next two available clinic days at Maple Ridge United Church, April 3 and April 17, are already booked up, with May 1 filling up quickly too.
Canadian Blood Services is hoping the trend continues, as the demand for blood has not lessened with more people staying at home.
“We’re urging donors to consider booking appointments over the next few weeks to help us maintain an adequate level of blood, and blood products for patients, because the need for blood is constant,” said Canadian Blood Services public affairs spokesperson, Marcelo Dominguez.
He said it would be wise to view the battle against COVID-19 as a marathon, not a sprint.
“We’re pleased by the response that we’ve seen from Canadians to donate blood and help patients, but we’ve also got to remind folks to keep patents in mind in the weeks and months ahead.
“[Donors] are still going to be needed, as blood has a limited shelf life. Like carton of milk, it has to get replaced regularly.
“I know we’ve all heard from our health leaders, who have been advocating that folks stay at home for all but essential activities, and donating bloods something we regard as essential.”
For Maple Ridge’s Lori Mustel, an appointment on April 17 will be one of the few times she leaves the house in the next few weeks.
“My husband’s an essential worker, so he’s been going out to do all the shopping,” she said.
Mustel donates blood every time she is eligible, which is every 84 days or so.
“It’s nice to know I’m helping people,” she said.
“I have type O blood, so I know a lot of people can use it.”
Type O positive blood is given to patients more than any other. According to Canadian Blood Services, since type O blood does not have A or B markers, these cells can be transfused into all patients, since they they don’t cause a reaction. That’s why type O donors are described as universal donors.
Cristina Alexandre will give blood at Maple Ridge Alliance Church on Friday (April 3).
“I’ve been doing it since I was 19,” she said.
“So about 18 years.”
The Maple Ridge resident said she had a very difficult time when giving birth to her daughter, and almost lost her life.
“They had to give me a lot of blood and it was one of those things where, since it was given to me, I felt it was only right to pay it forward.
“It was something that was so easy to do and helps so many people.”
For Alicia Triemstre, who has an appointment on May 1, it was the trials of her friend’s daughter that hit home.
She has given blood seven times, and started donating when she saw a young girl battle cancer.
“She died three years ago, so I gave a donation after she passed away.”
Triemstre said she found out how vital blood donors are for people undergoing chemotherapy and wanted to help. She is a type O donor as well, so has been told how appreciated her donation is.
“Even though it’s not comfortable for me to leave the house, or make appointments, or worry about social distancing, I know the need for blood is still there, so I’ve committed to going.”
Those interested in learning more about the precautions blood clinics are taking can visit blood.ca.
Canadian Blood Services is reminding potential donors, their donor centres are places of wellness in Canada’s health system.
“In addition to our strong cleaning and infection control practices – considering the recent developments with COVID-19 – we have introduced enhanced cleaning measures, wellness stations and social distancing measures to protect anyone who comes through our doors,” Dominguez said.
“That couples with the reality that only healthy people are eligible to donate blood.
“If you’re coming in to donate blood for a hospital patient in the best of times– when its’ normal – we have eligibility criteria that donors get carefully screened for any symptoms of illness, if they’ve travelled –there’s any number of criteria –and you do have to feel and be healthy to donate.”
Future clinics take place at Maple Ridge Alliance Church on May 1 and 15.