Longtime donor encouraging people to give
As he closes in on 40 years of regular blood donations, Gary Wiseman just doesn’t understand why more people don’t give.
In 2011, the Corner Brook man was recognized for his 150th donation. He has since surpassed 160 and continues to give blood as near to the minimum allotted wait time as possible.
“I like the motto, “it is in you to give” and it is out there to get,” Wiseman said.
There is a shortage of blood in Corner Brook right now. There has been a decline in donors from western Newfoundland at the city clinic. This sets itself up for a concerning summer — a time which is particularly challenging for clinics across the country.
The reasons, such as time of year or bad weather during the spring, doesn’t cut it for Wiseman.
“I think it has become apathy,” he said. “To me, it is heartbreaking. Everybody is going to appreciate it or realize it if something happens to one of their family. All of a sudden it will come to the forefront.”
Wiseman agrees there are not as many people in the younger generation giving blood, but he also said there are many who used to give that no longer do.
It is one of those medical services in which people assume will be there if needed, the donor said. However, that is not always the case.
Following a national trend, Peter MacDonald, Canadian Blood Services Atlantic director of donor relations, says there are many vacant appointments for scheduled donors. He said the timing of the Canada Day weekend — falling on Tuesday — has many people taking longer vacation weekends.
The Corner Brook clinic had 1,000 donors a year ago, and are now down to 950. They are collecting an average of about 38 units per week, below the minimum of 45 that is needed. There are 447 vacant appointments this week in the province, according to MacDonald, and 7,500 vacant of the 30,000 weekly appointments required nationally.
The blood supply in Canada is at a five-year low.
“We are not comfortable,” he said. “It’s not at a point now where we are in an appeal mode, but we want to prevent that from happening and get people in our clinics to restore our inventory to where it needs to be.”
The blood donor clinic is open Wednesdays and Thursday in Corner Brook form 12-2:30 p.m. and 4-7:30 p.m. People can call 1-888-2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283). The Canadian Blood Services also now has a blood app available.