WINNIPEG – A shortage of blood donations is sweeping across Canada as nearly half the people who make blood-donor appointments don’t show up.
A Winnipeg mom said she can’t imagine the fear families must feel when they are in a hospital room, waiting for blood to arrive.
Jennifer Wityshin’s son, Rylan, was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer when he was one. He needed eight units of blood a week while undergoing treatment, which means 416 people donated blood to keep his one-year fight going.
“I remember sitting in the hospital with Rylan and he needed blood, and they would call and we’d have to wait a few hours. So I could never imagine being a parent knowing that your child needs blood so badly and being told, ‘You have to wait, we have to see if we can get it,’ ” Wityshin said.
Wityshin created Ribbons for Rylan when her son passed away in January 2012 at the age of two. She fundraises to help other families going through the same things her family went through and hosts events to help organizations that worked to save Rylan.
Ribbons for Rylan and Canadian Blood Services hosted a blood drive at 777 William Ave. Monday, in hopes of getting more people through the door and rolling up a sleeve.
“Our goal was not only to get people out there donating blood but also to let them know why they need to donate blood,” Wityshin said.
Canadian Blood Services is currently seeing roughly half of scheduled appointments turn into no-shows.
There is a shortage of every blood type.
“Per week, we’re looking at about 550 units that we need to collect. That’s about 600 people coming in every week to maintain our blood levels,” Canadian Blood Services’ Patricia Bal said.
By the end of October, the organization needs a couple thousand units in order to meet requirements.
“We still need to fill 2,000 appointments. The need is there, but we’re finding people are making appointments but not necessarily coming in or cancelling,” Bal explained.
It’s a problem from coast to coast. Nationally, 133,000 people have not shown up for appointments and 119,000 have cancelled.
Donating blood takes about one hour. First you have to fill out a survey, then a nurse pricks your finger, then you head to a screening area, where they check your blood pressure and levels.
Then it’s off to the chair where a nurse hooks your arm up to the system, taking blood.
“It takes an hour out of your day every couple of months. I think everyone should be doing this; there might be a day when I need it,” donor Joan Saladin said.
“I’m going to be talking to my family and friends and trying to get more people out here,” donor Jill Taylor Brown said.
A donor can give blood once every 56 days.
You are not able to give blood if you have had dental work recently, a tattoo or piercing in the last six months, and other possible health conditions can also restrict you from donating.
For more information on if you can donate, or to make an appointment, you can call 1-888-2-donate.