Nova Scotia

Blood donations down amid Omicron COVID-19 wave

Canadian Blood Services says there's an urgent need for blood donations in Atlantic Canada and across the country. The Omicron wave has led to staffing challenges and people being unable to donate because they've contracted COVID-19 or are isolating.

'Now is the time for everyone in Atlantic Canada to step up, make that donation,' says official

Kathy Gracie is the associate director of Atlantic operations for Canadian Blood Services. She says people can only give blood on an appointment basis now to ensure physical distancing will be practised inside blood donation locations. (Paul Légère/Radio-Canada)

Canadian Blood Services says there's an urgent need for blood donations in Atlantic Canada and across the country.

The Omicron wave has led to staffing challenges and people being unable to donate because they've contracted COVID-19 or are isolating.

"Now is the time for everyone in Atlantic Canada to step up, make that donation at your closest donor centre and honour that appointment," said Kathy Gracie, associate director of Atlantic operations for Canadian Blood Services.

She said poor weather is also part of the reason for the dip in donations.

Gracie said officials believe they have a two-week window to turn around "this concerning trend and get our blood inventory back up to acceptable levels."

Blood donor Veronica Penny says giving blood is a safe experience. (Paul Légère/Radio-Canada)

She said there are 155 open appointments until the end of the month at the Bayers Road collection location in Halifax, and 455 across Atlantic Canada.

Gracie said there is strict COVID-19 protocol in place, including masking, extensive cleaning and not having walk-in appointments to ensure physical distancing is practised.

Blood donor Dan Sawler encourages people to give blood as they may need it one day themselves. (Paul Légère/Radio-Canada)

Veronica Penny donated blood recently and said the experience was completely safe.

"It's straightforward, you get snacks," she said. "There's no downside to it."

Dan Sawler is a regular blood donor. He's urging people to donate.

"If anybody can give, please do, because one day we may need that pint of blood ourselves," he said.

Men are eligible to donate blood every 56 days, while it's 84 for women.

With files from Paul Légère

now