Second week in June to be declared National Blood Donor week

Ottawa, May 6, 2005 – A public bill was introduced in the Senate yesterday by Senator Terry Mercer (Nova Scotia-Northend Halifax) to declare the second week of June as National Blood Donor Week.

“Every donation of blood has the power to save three people’s lives, but less than 4% of eligible Canadians donate blood every year,” said Senator Mercer. “Growing awareness of the importance of becoming a blood donor is required in order to encourage more Canadians to join the movement.”

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 in Canadian society and encourage Canadians to donate or become a volunteer.

“This is an issue where members of the Senate on all sides of the political spectrum should agree,” said Senator Mercer. “We have worked with Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec and with members of the Senate to reach today’s goal.”

Conservative Senator Ethel Cochrane (Newfoundland and Labrador) has taken part in this discussion. “I believe this recognition will help to reinforce the fact that blood donation is completely safe in Canada,” said Senator Cochrane. “Plus it allows us to celebrate the contribution of blood donors and volunteers in every community in Canada.”

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 everyday heroes of their communities and we are pleased to support a week of celebration to honour their acts of kindness and generosity,” said Dr. Francine Décary, Chief Executive Officer of Héma-Québec and Dr. Graham Sher, Chief Executive Officer of Canadian Blood Services.

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

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 and services, along with specialized and innovative products in the fields of transfusion medicine and human tissue transplantation.

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 42 permanent collection sites and more than 15,000 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.