National blood donor week: Reopening and summer days lead to a slowdown in appointments to donate blood

Montréal, June 14, 2021 — Relaxed health restrictions and warm summer temperatures are leading to fewer appointments to donate blood and plasma. But the need for blood products never slows down. Héma-Québec is launching an appeal to healthy individuals who want to donate blood or plasma to act now and throughout the summer.

This call to action is more pressing now because new data has revealed that the typical profile of the donors who helped sustain the collective blood supply throughout the pandemic is different from the one before COVID-19. Between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021, persons who had donated in the past enabled Héma-Québec to navigate through the fluctuations in demand for blood products. They rolled up their sleeves more often, increasing the average donation from 1.54 to 1.84 per donor.

On the other hand, the number of new blood donors declined by more than 50% compared with the same period a year earlier. This phenomenon was due, in large part, to a marked decrease in the number of new donors between the ages of 18 and 29, due to a sharp drop in blood drives in schools because of restricted access to sites on CÉGEP and university campuses.

The restrictions affecting donors aged 70 and over during the first wave of the pandemic in spring 2020 foreshadowed a similar phenomenon. But donors in this age group, who account for 10% of donations annually, enthusiastically returned to blood drives once they were able to do so and made up for the shortfall observed during the first quarter.

Héma-Québec is taking advantage of National Blood Donor Week, which runs from June 14 to 20, to underscore the unwavering support of the thousands of individuals whose generosity has enabled the organization to fulfill its mission this past year.

Blood donation and plasma donation: two realities

Decreased demand for blood products in hospitals during the first wave of the pandemic, along with limitations on holding blood drives, resulted in 7% fewer blood donations.

The opposite was true for plasma donations, which saw a major increase to meet the constant and sustained need for this component that is rich in proteins used to manufacture drugs. Nearly 29,500 more plasma donations were made compared with last year, representing a 35% increase. Reduced transfusions in hospitals had no effect on plasma collection activities, and recruitment efforts were deployed to encourage these donations, which were already by appointment only prior to the pandemic.

Deployment of safety measures

Against the backdrop of the pandemic, Héma-Québec made every effort to continue to ensure a safe donor experience. This included requiring bookings to donate blood. Many other measures were deployed at all collection sites, including initiating access controls to collection sites, taking the temperature of donors and volunteers, implementing additional disinfection measures, and reviewing the logistics of blood drives to meet social distancing measures.

View all the safety measures deployed here.

Persons interested in booking an appointment at a blood drive can do it on Héma-Québec’s website. To donate at a GLOBULE or PLASMAVIE centre, book an appointment online with our app

About Héma-Québec

Héma-Québec’s mission is to efficiently meet the Quebec population’s needs for blood and other high-quality biological products of human origin. Héma-Québec has 1,500 employees, nearly 255,000 donors of blood, plasma, stem cells, mothers’ milk and human tissue, as well as thousands of volunteers at blood drive sites. Héma-Québec delivers nearly 820,000 human-derived biological products to Quebec hospitals every year to meet patients’ needs.

Give blood. Give life.

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