Thousands of blood donors needed in Alberta

Canadian Blood Services says it's seeking thousands of new recruits for 2016 to replace its aging pool of donors in Alberta and to keep up with demand.

Aging pool of donors and constant demand will continue to be a challenge in 2016

Daryl Knoll says it was by chance he ended up at the Calgary blood donor clinic to donate blood after stepping away from it for 5 years. (Colleen Underwood/CBC)

Canadian Blood Services is seeking 16,000 new blood donors in Alberta for 2016, saying that's how many people are needed to replace its aging donor base and meet the ongoing demand.

"Because older donors tend to donate more frequently than younger ones, it actually takes more than one younger donor to 'replace' an older one," said a statement by Canadian Blood Services.

The agency is putting out the call at a time of year when it usually sees donations temporarily drop off. It says the holidays can be challenging because many are busy, visiting with family and friends, or travelling.

It was by chance that Daryl Knoll ended up at the Calgary blood donor clinic on 13 Avenue S.W. this week. He says he used to be a regular donor, having given blood about 100 times, but he stopped five years ago.

"I was shopping and we drove by and I said to my wife 'why don't we stop in, and they might be open [or] they might not be. We'll just see if they are open, if they are, we'll give blood,'" said Knoll.

Now he plans to get back into the swing of things and set a new goal for himself.

"I found out that there are some people that have actually given 500 times, if not even 1,000 times, and I thought 'you know, I could do that.'"

Attracting more donors

As for how Canadian Blood Services could attract more donors, 55-year-old Tom Valenta says he's not sure. This is his second time giving blood.

"Its up to the individual to see if they're touched in one way or another, to make that first donation and then continue on with it, right?" said Valenta.

"I think it might be the public's perception of what it entails to actually give blood, but honestly it's probably one of the more simple things you can do."

Although about half of Canadians are eligible to give blood, last year just over one per cent of people did, according to Canadian Blood Services.
 

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