Prince George blood clinic closes, leaving donors mourning loss
The closest blood donation clinic for residents is a 5-hour drive away in Kamloops, B.C.
For the last 20 years, Surjit Menhas has been a regular donating his blood at the clinic. He made a point of visiting on closing day.
"It's just like a family over here. I feel disgust and I feel sorry to know that you can't give anymore," he told the CBC's Andrew Kurjata.
Prince George resident Rowena Mills also visited the clinic for one last time today. She says her motivations for donating blood are personal — when she was 19 years old, a stranger's blood saved her mother's life.
"It was a routine day surgery, but there was an unexpected bleed and she lost a lot of blood," she said.
"I have two little boys of my own that have the same blood type as me and I like to donate because I always think it could help them some day, or other people's children."
Decline in use of blood products
Canadian Blood Services says the money it costs to operate the Prince George clinic would be better spent trying to attract new donors in larger cities like Vancouver and Kelowna.
It also says there has been a decline in the use of blood products in hospitals.
"We try to align our collection plan with the demand we foresee coming from the hospitals," said David Patterson, the director of donor relations for Canadian Blood Services in B.C. and Yukon.
"We had an excess of capacity in the system and looked for an opportunity to save some funds."
Patterson adds that patients requiring blood in and around Prince George won't be affected by the closure. He says there is a difference between where they collect blood and where they support blood needs.
The Prince George clinic was the only blood donation clinic anywhere in northern B.C. The closest location now will be an irregular clinic in Kamloops - a five-hour drive away.
For Menhas, though the decision is a disappointing one, he hopes it won't be the last time he is able to donate blood.
"Emotionally, I'm a little bit down but if I have a chance, when I go to Vancouver, I'll find a place over there."
To hear more, click the audio labelled: Only blood donation clinic in Prince George closes down.
With files from Andrew Kurjata