Canada to host World Blood Donor Day June 14, 2007

OTTAWA, March 28, 2007— Canada has been selected as the host country for World Blood Donor Day on June 14th, 2007 by the World Health Organization, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, International Society of Blood Transfusion and International Federation of Blood Donor Organizations. Canadian Blood Services and Héma-Québec will work in conjunction with Health Canada to thank blood donors around the world for their selfless gift, and to raise awareness for the universal need for safe blood and blood products.

“Being granted this international stage is a huge honour for Canada,” says Canadian Blood Services Chief Executive Officer Graham Sher. “Our Canadian donors help save thousands of lives every year. We are also part of a global family of blood systems, and recognize the impact blood donors have on the health of citizens all around the world.”

“The safety of the blood supply is of utmost importance to Héma-Québec,” says Dr. Francine Décary, President and Chief Executive Officer of Héma-Québec. “But part of our job is also to share our expertise. Blood may not cross borders, but our knowledge and leadership can.”

The international theme of this year’s World Blood Donor Day is “Safe Blood for Safe Motherhood” to highlight how voluntary blood donors can help save the lives of thousands of mothers and newborns around the world. Celebrations will be held in Ottawa to showcase the importance of blood donation worldwide with speeches of thanks and inspiration, musical tributes, and recipient stories.

“Health Canada, the blood operators and the Provincial/Territorial governments have worked collaboratively to enhance the safety of the blood supply for Canadians,” says the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Health. “As a result of this collaboration, Canada has a strong national blood system that is viewed as a model by other countries. Health Canada’s membership in the newly formed WHO Blood Regulators Network will provide Canada the opportunity to share its expertise in this area worldwide.”

World Blood Donor Day was officially designated as an annual event by the World Health Assembly in 2005. It has been hosted previously in the United Kingdom, and Thailand. About 60 per cent of the global blood supply is donated in developed countries where less than 20 per cent of the world’s population live—this leaves many countries with acute blood shortages. Less than a quarter of countries have achieved 100 per cent voluntary blood donation. Many countries still depend to varying degrees on blood donation by the friends or family of a patient needing transfusion and, in some countries, some donors are still paid to give blood.

“Increasing the number of voluntary blood donors to give blood regularly is important all around the world,” says Dr. Neelam Dhingra, Coordinator, Blood Transfusion Safety, World Health Organization. “ While June 14th is a special day, World Blood Donor Day is part of a larger international campaign to ensure safe blood will always be available to every patient who needs transfusion as part of their treatment.”

In Canada, World Blood Donor Day falls within National Blood Donor Week which is celebrated by events in towns and cities across the country.

"On behalf of the Provinces and Territories, we are thrilled Canada has the opportunity to host World Blood Donor Day,” says Nova Scotia Minister of Health, the Honourable Chris d'Entremont. “The donors, the staff and the volunteers across this great nation and indeed around the world deserve our thanks for making a life and death difference.*

On average, every minute of every day in Canada, someone needs blood or blood products. Hundreds of thousands of people each year receive blood components or blood products following accidents, during surgery or for cancer treatments, burn therapy, haemophilia and other blood-related diseases. The maintenance of the collective blood supply depends entirely on the generosity of people who care about sharing the priceless gift of good health.

About 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. A dedicated team of about 4,500 staff and 17,000 volunteers enable us to operate 41 permanent collection sites and more than 19,000 donor clinics annually. Canadian Blood Services is a non-governmental organization, however the Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Health provide operational funding, and the federal government, through Health Canada, is responsible for regulating the blood system.

About Héma-Québec
Created in 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 Quebecers; provide and develop expertise along with specialized and innovative services and products in the fields of transfusion medicine and human tissue transplantation.

Héma-Québec is 1,300 employees, some 3,000 days of blood drives and more than 300,000 blood donors each year, 16,000 volunteer partners and 400,000 blood products delivered each year to Québec hospitals to meet patients' needs.