Half of Canadians will need, or will know someone who needs, a blood product at some point in their lives, for a variety of reasons.
It’s estimated that one in two Canadians are eligible to donate, but only one in 30 donate regularly. You have an opportunity to help us change that statistic on Tuesday, March 21, as Sackville hosts a blood drive at the Tantramar Civic Centre.
Some of the basics for donor eligibility are as follows: you must be at least 17 years old, in general good health and feeling well on the day of donation, meet height and weight requirements, and have waited 56 days (males) or 84 days (females) since your last donation.
There are also conditions related to travel, medications and piercings/tattoos, a full list of which are found at blood.ca/blood/abcs-eligibility.
Some eligibility requirements are outdated and highly flawed: cis men who have sex with other cis men must abstain from sex for one year before donating, and trans individuals who have not had lower gender-reaffirming surgery are screened based on their sex assigned at birth. Research into these issues continues and hopefully will progress in a more inclusive direction.
For those eligible, giving blood is one of the easiest ways to significantly impact and even save a complete stranger’s life.
Someone undergoing heart surgery may need blood from up to five donors, while someone being operated on following a car accident could use up to fifty units of blood. Leukemia patients require up to eight donors per week. This alone demonstrates the huge importance of not only donating, but also donating regularly.
It is also important to be aware of your own blood type, which refers to the antigens present in your blood, a combination of A, B, and Rh factor.
Not only could this be valuable information if you ever require a blood transfusion, but some blood types can be given to a greater variety of recipients.
For example, O- blood, which contains no antigens, is considered the universal donor and can be used by recipients of any blood type.
Additionally, if you are type AB, you are the universal plasma donor, referring to the fluid in which blood cells are suspended, and may wish to give in this way instead. Plasma donors can also give as often as once a week!
For many donors, giving blood is a free, easy way to help others that requires little to no discomfort. Many also have a personal connection to the cause.
Growing up, Cydney Kane, a co-author of this article, suffered from chronic autoimmune kidney disease and took part in regular blood tests. When she was young, Kane had a goal of becoming healthy enough to donate blood as an adult, and put her comfort with the procedure to good use. Considered cured by 16, she spent her 17th birthday in the Canadian Blood Services clinic, offering up some A+ blood.
Donating took on another personal touch for Kane this past fall, after her close friend Mitchell Richard had 17 blood transfusions as part of a series of cancer treatments and surgeries. As in many cases, blood donations meant the difference between life and death for Mitchell. Without the generosity of 17 people, things could have ended differently.
On March 21 between 2-4 p.m. and between 5:30-8:30 p.m., join us at the Tantramar Veterans’ Civic Centre to donate blood in honour of former Mount Allison student and Sackville resident Mitchell Richard, who is currently battling peripheral nerve sheath sarcoma.
Book an appointment at www.blood.ca or by calling 1-888-2-DONATE, and follow Health Care Outreach on Facebook to keep up to date with future blood drives in Sackville. Walk-ins are also welcome. Free cookies and juice are provided to donors after every donation, but the biggest reward of the experience will be knowing the difference you’ve made in someone’s life.