Calgary

Canadian Blood Services begs for O-negative as inventories drop

Canadian Blood Services is urging potential donors in the Calgary and surrounding area to roll up their sleeves and give, as inventories have dropped below a comfortable level.

Calgary has 4-day supply on hand of the universal type, far less than comfort zone

Canadian Blood Services is urging potential donors in the Calgary region to help out. (Nic Meloney/CBC)

Canadian Blood Services is begging potential donors in the Calgary and surrounding area to roll up their sleeves and give, as inventories have dropped below a comfortable level.

"We currently have less than a four-day supply on hand of O-negative blood," territory manager Lisa Castro told CBC Calgary News at Six on Friday.

She said typically they like to have an inventory covering five to eight days of O-negative because it's the universal type that everyone can receive.

"The special thing about O-negative blood is, is that it's compatible with any type of blood type."

Lisa Castro is the Calgary and area territory manager for Canadian Blood Services. (CBC)

Car crash victims can need 50 units of blood, while cancer patients can require eight units a week.

"Leukemia patients can use up to five units in their treatment as well," Castro said.

"Some of our accident victims have received hundreds of units of blood. People often think about the traumas that occur but we don't think about the regular treatments occurring every day. Every minute of every day, someone in Canada needs blood."

Christmas and New Year's can be part of the problem.

"Often after the holiday season we find donations taper off a little. So we are really asking for the support of Calgary and the surrounding communities. New donors are really critical for the future of the Canadian blood supply," Castro said.

Restrictions for gay men still in place

The agency even signalled late last year it was thinking about a shorter wait time for gay men, considering another change to its donation policy. It would allow gay men who have abstained from sex for three months to give blood, down from the current one-year waiting period.

Gay and bisexual men have faced restrictions since the tainted blood scandal of the 1980s, when thousands of Canadians were infected with HIV or hepatitis C from donated blood.

Critics have called the restrictions discriminatory.

With files from CBC Calgary News at Six and Bobby Hristova

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