British Columbia

B.C. health minister 'honoured and excited' by Sikh community's blood-donation campaign

The Sikh community traditionally organizes a large blood drive every November, but this year brought it forward after a spike in cancelled appointments due to physical distancing requirements amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Blood drive usually held in November was moved forward after COVID-19 measures caused drop in donations

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix says it's 'really heartening to see' members of the Sikh community come together to organize a blood donation drive. (Michael McArthur/CBC)

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix has commended members of the Sikh community for heeding the call for more blood donations after Canadian Blood Services experienced a drop in donations because of measures around COVID-19. 

The community traditionally organizes a large blood drive every November, but this year brought it forward after a spike in cancelled appointments due to physical distancing requirements.

On Monday, at his daily press conference with provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, Dix used the example of the campaign as an example of community coming together to support one another at a critical time.

"People in the South Asian community of the Sikh faith, who every year launch one of the biggest blood drives in Canada, are launching a new blood drive, really at the call of Dr. Henry and many others across the country, and we're so honoured and excited by that," Dix said.

"It's such an important thing to do and really heartening to see."

Sukhdeep Singh, a volunteer with the blood drive, has donated blood for the past 21 years, and says it feels good to be recognized.

"If you're doing something year after year, and the health minister recognized it, to me it's a good gesture ... obviously, it feels great."

'It's part of our duty to society'

He says Canadian Blood Services reached out the group to solicit donations after seeing a drop in donations.

Because of physical distancing measures, Singh says the community will not be doing any clinic take-overs or mobile donation clinics. Instead, they are encouraging participants to schedule their own personal appointments to donate.

"It's part of our duty to society," Singh said. "We're enjoying all the privilege, and sometimes we ignore what we're supposed to do to the neighbourhood, the community, the country as a whole."

Canadian Blood Services says there's still a strong need for blood across the country to help patients with chronic illness or traumatic injury, and those undergoing cancer treatments or surgery. (Shutterstock)

Canadian Blood Services says there is still an urgent need for blood for patients with chronic illness or traumatic injury, and for those undergoing surgery or cancer treatments.

The organization says it has put in place enhanced cleaning measures and stricter eligibility requirements for anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19, developed a fever and cough, or travelled abroad in recent weeks.

It has cancelled walk-in donations to comply with physical distancing measures. Any interested and eligible donors are encouraged to make an appointment.

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca.  

With files from Jake Costello

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