Changes to blood donations could cause even bigger shortage

Kingston, ON, Canada / CKWS TV

News of a blood supply shortage is nothing new for Katie Amey. The Kingston-woman has given the gift of life as often as possible for the past 10 years. She became such a dedicated donor after seeing how much it helped her grandfather.

Katie Amey: “Just about everyone knows someone who has needed blood at one time or another.
Whether it’s for cancer treatment, or surgery or a car accident – you see the impact of your donations.”

But now she, and many other women across the country, won’t be able to donate as often.

Canadian Blood Services recently implemented a longer waiting period between visits for women, after it was found that it takes longer for women to build up levels of iron in their blood.

They must now wait 12 weeks, instead of 8, in between visits to blood clinics like this one, that will translate into 35-thousand fewer donations each year.

Maureen Millette:
“We know that we rely heavily on donors rebooking appointments in our clinics and we have seen a drop in re-books since we introduced the iron changes.”

But Dr. Paula James, a professor at Queen’s University supports the need for longer waiting periods for women, even it means these chairs are empty more often than before.

Dr. Paula James/Haematologist: “It’s a bold step and it’s one that has a negative impact on them. But I understand the culture within CBS as being one that thinks donor health is really important.”

Katie Amey has tried to donate every 56 days, or 8 weeks but wasn’t always able to because of her low iron levels – and sees the change as a positive.

Katie Amey:
“I’m more likely to be able to donate on time, and it’s freeing up that appointment for someone else.”

If they’re able to fill it.

As of now only 3 percent of Canadians are frequent blood donors – and a large portion of them will now how to wait even longer between visits. But the longer wait time doesn’t apply to men.

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