By Shanleigh Brosseau, Contributor
On April 3rd, Canadian Blood Services is holding a Blood Donor Clinic in West Residence, room W-132 from 12:00 pm until 3:00 pm.
According to Joanne Drake, Territory Manager for Canadian Blood Services, blood donation clinics have been held at Laurentian for over 20 years now, and have been very successful.
“The last two clinics, however, have not been collecting to target, which is 58 units of blood,” said Drake. One donation is equal to one unit of blood.
Drake explained that only 3.4% of eligible donors in Canada give blood. About 400,000 Canadians give blood each year, and those who are older tend to donate more frequently.
“We need to find a new generation of blood donors,” said Drake. “There are patients across the country every single day that need blood”.
Drake noted that one reason for lack of donations is that Canadian Blood Services has introduced new guidelines that limit the amount of times female donors can donate in a year.
“The change is part of tougher guidelines on the amount of haemoglobin or iron required in the blood,” said Drake. “This means that female donors are now required to wait 12 weeks between donations, as opposed to the previous eight weeks.”
Because of these changes in guidelines, there are less donors being accepted and thus less units of blood being collected.
“These changes were put in place to help ensure the well-being of donors,” said Drake, “but these changes come at a cost.”
“We’ve been very reliant on a relatively small pool of donors in Sudbury,” she said. “The changes to the haemoglobin criteria will reduce the average number of donations that somebody makes, and because of that we need new donors.”
Irma Somda, a second year Biomedical Biology student, has had experience volunteering for Canadian Blood Services. “I loved my experience because I was able to reach out to potential donors and be the voice for patients in need,” said Somda.
As well as being a volunteer at a clinic, Somda knows more than enough about the importance of donating blood, having received a blood transfusion as a child. When Somda was a year old, she lived in a small town called Divo in Ivory Coast. She had malaria, which gave her a severe fever and the inability to keep food in her system.
“The doctors informed my family that I needed a blood transfusion,” said Somda. Her mom was the only person in her family who could donate, as Somda needed B+ blood, but [her mom] didn’t have enough blood to save her.
“My uncle had to travel [2 hours] away from where I was and had to go to multiple hospitals in order to find the proper blood”, said Somda. Fortunately her uncle retrieved the blood that Somda needed.
“As soon as the blood got to my system [my mom] saw the magic operate because I was finally able to open my eyes and talk a little bit,” said Somda. “Patients depend a lot on donors because family members are not always able to help.”
“Not all superheroes wear capes.” said Somda. “My superhero took an hour of his life to give me the chance to live 18 more years.”
Somda’s advice and encouragement for people who may not want to donate blood is to be empathetic. “It’s important for Canadians to know that they’re important and they have the power to save someone’s life [by] just giving a small amount of blood.”