This summer, some 80,000 blood donors are invited to carry the torch

Montreal, Monday, June 14, 2004 – Quebeckers are encouraged to give blood generously between June 14 and September 5 of this year. The next 12 weeks in particular will be crucial to maintaining the province's blood reserves at the required levels. Each week, some 7,000 blood donors are expected to give the gift of life during one of Héma-Québec's scheduled blood drives or at one of the permanent blood donor centres.

In order to satisfy the constant need for blood components for Quebec hospital patients during the summer period, Héma-Québec hopes to attract some 80,000 blood donors. Indeed, the Héma-Québec team will be on the road throughout the summer in order to welcome donors at the 400 mobile blood drives organized in collaboration with community partners.

The launch of this campaign, which will feature the theme Carry the torch this summer, coincides with the celebration today, June 14, of World Blood Donor Day, which is intended to thank blood donors for their invaluable contribution and to encourage new voluntary donors to give blood regularly.

" In the spirit of the athletes going to the Olympic Games in Athens, we want to invite the public to carry the torch this summer. All donors are heroes. They give anonymously, but the impact of their contribution to the health of us all can be clearly measured in the number of lives saved," declares Dr. Francine Décary, Chief Executive Officer of Héma-Québec. She also underlines the fact that blood is a vital-yet perishable and irreplaceable-resource.

It should be remembered that a single donation of blood can help save up to four lives. All units of blood received are screened for safety and then processed to extract four blood components: packed red blood cells, platelets, plasma and cryoprecipitate. Since platelets can only be stored for up to five days, maintaining blood reserves at an acceptable level remains a daily challenge.

The entire blood donation procedure takes an average of one hour. There is no risk of contracting a disease through giving blood, since all the instruments involved in collecting it are new, sterile and destroyed after each use. Anyone who is in good health may give blood. A first-time donor must be between 18 and 60 years of age; however, those who give blood regularly may continue to do so until age 70. Eligible donors can give blood every 56 days, or six times per year.

Héma-Québec also offers a telephone information service to those wishing to learn more about the impact of the West Nile Virus on blood. Simply call 1 877 VNO-HEMA (1 877 866-4362).

Since its inception in September 1998, Héma-Québec's mission has been to efficiently provide adequate quantities of safe, optimal blood components, substitutes and human tissues to meet the needs of all Quebeckers, and to provide and develop expertise and services, along with specialized and innovative products, in the fields of transfusion medicine and human tissue transplantation.

Give blood. Give life.

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INFO-COLLECTE for Montreal and Western Quebec:
(514) 832-0873 or 1 800 343-7264.

INFO-COLLECTE for Quebec City and Eastern Quebec:
(418) 780-7264 or 1 800 761-6610.