Blood donor clinics or ‘donation events’ are returning to Salmon Arm in May 2021 after more than a decade. (Black Press file photo)

Blood donor clinics or ‘donation events’ are returning to Salmon Arm in May 2021 after more than a decade. (Black Press file photo)

Blood donor clinics return to Salmon Arm after 11-year absence

Kelowna to become plasma site, creating opportunity for more whole blood donations in Interior

After an absence of more than 10 years, the Canadian Blood Services will hold a blood donor clinic in Salmon Arm this spring.

Now called a ‘donation event,’ the first such occasion in more than a decade will take place at the SASCU Recreation Centre on May 31 and June 1 from 1 to 5 p.m. each day.

The last time a blood donor clinic was held in the city was 2010. Many residents expressed their displeasure when the clinics stopped and it became necessary to drive to Vernon or elsewhere to donate blood.

Gayle Voyer, territory manager with Canadian Blood Services, said the events will be coming every 12 weeks.

One will be held in August and another in November. The organization’s fiscal year runs April 1 to March 31, so she said the events will be continuing in Salmon Arm until at least March 2022.

“We’re transitioning our Kelowna site into a plasma centre, so there will be opportunities for increased blood donations in the Interior,” she said.

Plasma is a component of blood – a whole unit is made up of plasma, white blood cells and red blood cells. Plasma is the liquid part of blood.

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She said the Canadian Blood Services’ blood system is quite complex. Blood collection sites are based on hospital demand, and the organization is a national one.

“Whether we’re in Salmon Arm or Kelowna, we always have enough blood for people to access across the country,” she said.

The organization is increasing plasma collection in Canada, with Kelowna to be one of just three sites in the country, beginning in June. The other two are in Sudbury, Ontario and Lethbridge, Alberta.

Starting in April, events will occur in Kamloops, Vernon, Penticton, Peachland, Armstrong and Salmon Arm for whole-blood donation. People in Kelowna will be able to donate plasma.

Voyer said the demand for blood is constant.

“It expires after 42 days so the need is ongoing.”

Regarding the Salmon Arm donation events, she said the best way to book is through the blood.ca website.

People can also do so through the ‘GiveBlood’ app. A phone number is available for questions, such as those about eligibility or medication: 1-888-236-6283.

Each day, about 50 donors will be accommodated during the four hours, with 100 over the two days.

Voyer said the blood.ca website can provide eligibility clearance, an important step.

“It’s a great tool for someone who has never donated or hasn’t donated for a long time – it takes you through preliminary screening.”

Read more: ‘Watching very closely’: Blood services watching for impact from COVID-19 second wave

Read more: ‘Tremendous’ response from blood donors has supply keeping pace

People 17 or older can donate. One of the biggest changes is that there no longer is an upper age limit.

She noted that Canadian Blood Services has a community engagement program, so if offices – or any group – would like to get involved and be part of donating blood, they should contact Voyer via email: gayle.voyer@blood.ca, as she can book presentations or get materials out to them. It’s all done virtually during the pandemic. The program is called ‘Partners for Life.’

Regarding how best to prepare for donating blood if a person is eligible, Voyer suggests that people make sure they’re hydrated, have had something to eat and are generally feeling well. People should bring their government-issued identification or their donor card.

Voyer said the organization is looking forward to coming to Salmon Arm.

“It’s nice to have such strong community support there.”


marthawickett@saobserver.net
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