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Northern Pen - 2020-03-25

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COVID-19 causes blood donor cancellations

HEALTH

JUANITA MERCER SALTWIRE NETWORK

St. John’s ‘merb’y’ and Project Kindness founder Hasan Hai is encouraging people to continue donating blood to Canadian Blood Services despite COVID-19 concerns. “Regardless what happens with businesses, and schools shutting down, people are still getting sick,” Hai said. “People are hospitalized, and there are people who are actively going through treatment. So, as long as you can safely do so – if you’re not vulnerable to being outside – I would recommend you make the appointment. “Canadian Blood Services is excellent at keeping clean, sterile facilities. I mean, it’s like a lab environment. Go in, make your donation. The blood supply cannot be interrupted. We need to do whatever we can to make sure we do our part.” Hai said he plans to make his next donation this week. His public appeal echoes a statement from Canadian Blood Services on Monday. The organization said it’s concerned by a recent spike in appointment cancellations because of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The inventory is currently strong, but the recent increase in cancellations is worrying, particularly in light of the blood shortages already being reported in other countries affected by COVID-19,” reads the statement from Canadian Blood Services. “Donating blood in Canada continues to be safe. Our robust cleaning and infection-control practices protect all donors, staff and volunteers. All prospective donors are also carefully screened for any symptoms of illness, including very mild ones. This screening occurs during both appointment booking and upon arrival at the donor centre or event. Those with any symptoms are not allowed to donate blood and are instructed not to visit.” Dr. Isra Levy, Canadian Blood Services’ vice-president of medical affairs and innovation, said in the statement that donor centres are “islands of wellness within Canada’s health system. They are not places where sick people gather.” The organization is urging healthy eligible donors to book and keep appointments, stressing that it adheres to the latest guidance from the Public Health Agency of Canada, including all recommendations for public gatherings during COVID-19. “Should the agency’s recommendations change we will act immediately to keep donors safe.” Hai said he will continue donating because he knows the positive effect it has on people in the province. He said he became a regular donor after meeting a family whose child needed blood products while undergoing chemotherapy. “It’s actually going to a real human being in our community, and it’s literally saving lives,” he said. “I’ve since met many who are alive only because of blood donors, and blood product donors. It became so important to do. I recognized that I could take a couple of minutes, maybe an hour every couple of weeks, and donate. It was nothing to me, but it was literally saving lives.” Anyone interested in donating can make an appointment using the GiveBlood app, by visiting blood.ca or by calling 1-888-2-DONATE. Walk-in appointments are also available at all locations.

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