Blood donor clinics reopen in West Niagara

After shutting down because of COVID-19 restrictions, blood donor clinics have resumed in West Niagara communities.

There is still an urgent need for donations following the drop in donor numbers during the COVID-19 shutdown. Demand for blood is rising at hospitals as they resume procedures that were put on hold due to the pandemic.

Clinics in Grimsby, Fonthill, Beamsville, and Smithville have resumed with new enhanced safety measures. Additional wellness screenings are being conducted. Physical distancing sanitization measures are in place. Donors must also wear masks provided to them, or wear their own.

“Every blood donation makes a lifesaving difference,” said Tammy Maroudas, Territory Manager Donor Relations, Canadian Blood Services. One donation can save up to three lives. Each unit of blood is separated into three usable products: plasma, red blood cells, and stem cells.

Half of Canadians are eligible to donate blood. Yet, less than 4 per cent of the population contribute to the national supply. Each year, over 100,000 new donors are needed to help meet the needs of Canada’s growing population.

The blood donation process follows a streamlined structure. From start to finish, each appointment takes one hour.

First, donors are screened at the door to rule out COVID-19 symptoms. Then, they take a short survey on a tablet in a private booth. After the digital assessment, there is one final socially-distanced screening with a Canadian Blood Services representative behind a plexiglass partition. The rep tests temperature. They also check hemoglobin levels with a finger stick test.

“The blood collection portion of the appointment only takes about 10 to 15 minutes,” said Maroudas.

Most blood donors describe the feeling they experience as a tingling sensation when the needle is inserted followed by a gentle pressure, no pain.

A light snack and juice or water is provided at the end of each session. For the rest of the day, donors are asked to drink plenty of fluids. They must also avoid strenuous activity for six to eight hours and heavy lifting for 24 hours.

“After blood is collected in Niagara, it goes to our Brampton lab for testing, processing, and distribution to hospitals locally, or anywhere in Canada that needs them,” Maroudas told the Niagara Info.

Donated blood does not stay in blood bank forever. Donations are only viable for 42 days. Platelets, a blood product that provides the basis for clotting and helps control bleeding, is only viable for seven days.

Anyone 17 years or older can give blood if they meet the health and weight requirements.

Blood donor clinics close to you

The next clinics in West Niagara communities are:

  • Fonthill blood donor clinic – Friday Aug. 28, 2020 at the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 613141 Highway 20 East, Fonthill, ON, L0S 1E0
  • Smithville blood donor clinic – Friday Sept. 11, 2020 at John Calvin School, 320 Station Street Smithville, ON, L0R 2A0
  • Beamsville blood donor clinic – Monday Oct. 5, 2020 at the Lincoln Senior Centre, 4361 Central Avenue Beamsville, ON, L0R 1B6

There are also nearby clinics in St. Catherines, Welland, Port Colborne, Niagara Falls.

To book a blood donation appointment at a local clinic visit Canadian Blood Services.