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Canadian Blood Services opens its doors

The Story

Linda Rankin has seen the blood system from both sides. A former recipient of blood products, she now sits on the board of directors for Canadian Blood Services. Starting today, the new agency is taking over responsibility for Canada's blood system from the Red Cross. It's going to be a challenge to restore confidence in the system, though. As this CBC health program shows, donations have dropped by one-third in the past five years.

Medium: Television
Program: Healthbeat
Broadcast Date: Sept. 26, 1998
Guest(s): Lynda Cranston, Michael McBain, Linda Rankin
Reporter: Dian Duthie
Duration: 5:48

Did You know?

• Quebec established its own parallel blood supply system called Héma-Québec. The only difference in the way it operates is that Héma-Québec charges hospitals for blood while Canadian Blood Services (CBS) is funded by the provinces and territories.
• CBS and Héma-Québec inherited the Red Cross's 17 blood centres when the change was made. Over 3,000 former Red Cross workers also made the switch.

• CBS operates at arm's length from governments to ensure it is accountable only to people who require blood and blood products.
• Besides recruiting donors and collecting blood, the organization tests blood, processes it into components and supplies plasma for blood products such as factor concentrates.
• At the outset, CBS committed 10 per cent of its budget to researching blood safety and finding ways to reduce dependence on blood products.

• As new diseases arise, CBS acts quickly to screen out donors who may be affected. Before a test for West Nile virus was introduced on July 1, 2003, CBS announced it would consider closing clinics in places where West Nile had surfaced. When SARS surfaced in Ontario, nurses conducting screening interviews added a new question for donors, asking whether they had recently visited SARS-affected areas or had any of the symptoms of SARS.

• The blood donation rate in Canada is lower that that in European countries. About 3.5 per cent of Canadians are blood donors, compared with five per cent of Europeans.
• Newfoundlanders tend to donate more than the national average, and Ontarians and British Columbians donate less.


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