Canadian Blood Services needs holiday donations

This month Canadian Blood Services hopes to ship about 70,000 units of blood to hospitals across Canada, but right now it's about 5,000 donations short.

Calgary manager says donating blood 'not top of mind' during Christmas

Canadian Blood Services needs about 5,000 more donations this holiday season. (CBC)


  • Blood is perishable and has a 42-day "best before" date
  • On average, someone in Canada requires blood or a blood product every 60 seconds
  • A third of Canadians polled did not know their blood type
  • A car accident victim can require blood donations from up to 50 donors
  • On average, people have five litres of blood in their system

Canadian Blood Services is asking for help this holiday season.

The organization hopes to ship about 70,000 units of blood to hospitals across Canada this month. Right now, it's about 5,000 donations short.

Canadian Blood Services is now asking people to roll up their sleeves for a gift it says will make a difference to hospital patients across the country.

Nearly 50 units of blood were needed to save Malorie Butler's life. (CBC )

A gift that 24-year-old Malorie Butler needed less than two years ago.

"If there was no blood when I needed it, I wouldn't be here," she said.

Butler almost died when she was severely injured in a car crash along a stretch of highway in Nova Scotia. It took nearly 50 units of blood to save her life.

"I think there's an assumption that it’s just going to be there, there’s an assumption that if you need it, you will have it, and that's not the case," she said. "If you don't donate, if people don't donate, there's no blood."

It took three blood transfusions and five weeks for Butler to recover and like many Canadians she didn't realize how important it is to donate blood.

"A doctor came up to me and said that it was the equivalent of three oil changes and that kind of ... put it into perspective a little bit for me," she said.

As she puts the final touches on her Christmas preparations, Butler says her one wish this holiday season is for Canadians to give the gift of blood and help save a life.

Donations needed by Jan. 2

Judy Jones, manager of Donor Services in Calgary, said people sometimes forget to donate blood during the holidays because they have different priorities.

"Being with friends and family, and trying to get into the malls and get their shopping done, so of course it’s not top of mind," she said.

Canadians are being asked to roll up their sleeves between now and Jan. 2. The appointment usually takes an hour.

Calgary manager Judy Jones said many blood donor clinics are open during the holidays. (CBC)

Between the 41 permanent locations in major cities across the country, and the hundreds of mobile clinics in operation, there are over 20,000 blood donor clinics per year. Blood donors can donate every 56 days.

"If people came in three times a year, if almost every Canadian did that, we would have consistent number of blood donations needed for the patients in the hospitals," said Jones.

It's why many blood donor clinics are open during the holidays. While the numbers may be few in one Calgary clinic, these donors understand the need for blood is great.

"I have friends whose parents have been sick, you know, my aunt had breast cancer," said Emily Joyce.

Sam Frifer agrees the need for blood is always there.

"I had a friend of mine back home in Morocco who needed blood, couldn't find any. He had to buy some, so I don't want anybody to go through that hassle," he said.