Bill to Declare National Blood Donor Week in June Reintroduced

Ottawa, May 17, 2006 – Today, Senator Terry Mercer (Nova Scotia-Northend Halifax) reintroduced a public bill in the Senate to declare National Blood Donor Week each year in the week that coincides with World Blood Donor Day on June 14th. The original bill was put forward in May of 2005 but it died on the Order Paper when the January 2006 election was called.

“We need to make more Canadians aware of the need for blood and blood products and to encourage them to become regular, lifelong donors,” said Senator Mercer. “Over 50 % of Canadians have required blood or blood products for themselves or a family member, but less than 4% of eligible Canadians donate every year. It’s time for that to change.”

The week will provide Canadians an opportunity to celebrate and thank the donors and volunteers of the blood systems in Canada who contribute to ensuring the health of their fellow Canadians. It will also build awareness of the importance of blood, plasma, platelet, and bone marrow donation and encourage Canadians to donate or volunteer.

Conservative Senator Ethel Cochrane (Newfoundland and Labrador) has been a partner in efforts to bring this issue back to the table. “I continue to believe that this yearly celebration and recognition of donors will help to reinforce the direct impact that blood donation can make in our communities across Canada,” said Senator Cochrane. “Each blood donation has the power to save the lives of three or four people-that could be a child undergoing cancer treatment, a parent or sibling having surgery, or a friend who was in a car accident.”

“We have continued to work with Canadian Blood Services, Héma-Québec and Members of the Senate and House of Commons from all sides of the political spectrum to ensure that this issue is not forgotten.” said Senator Mercer. “This is something we can all agree on-giving blood saves lives and we encourage more Canadians to donate.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) celebrates “World Blood Donor Day” on June 14 every year, at which time 192 WHO Member States and over 200 voluntary blood donor organizations lend their support to the cause. This bill will allow Canadians to join in this worldwide effort with a full week of celebration each year.

“Donors are the heart of the blood systems and we are pleased to support a week of celebration to honour their acts of kindness and generosity, and inspire others to follow their example,” said Dr. Graham Sher, Chief Executive Officer of Canadian Blood Services and Dr. Francine Décary, President and Chief Executive Officer of Héma-Québec.

About Canadian Blood Services & Héma-Québec:
In Canada, the blood supply is managed by two not-for-profit organizations: Héma-Québec and Canadian Blood Services.

Canadian Blood Services is a national, not-for-profit charitable organization that manages the blood supply in all provinces and territories outside of Quebec and oversees the country's Unrelated Bone Marrow Donor Registry. Canadian Blood Services operates 41 permanent collection sites and more than 19,000 donor clinics annually. The Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Health provide operational funding to Canadian Blood Services. The federal government, through Health Canada, is responsible for regulating the blood system. For more information, please visit the website at www.bloodservices.ca.

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

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