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The many reasons blood donors should not be taken for granted

By Mel Cappe

When I was Deputy Minister of the Environment I told my staff I wanted to be taken for granted.

In this role, and my other responsibilities in the Canadian Public Service, I always tried to serve the public and make Canada a better place. But I was happy to be a faceless bureaucrat, out of the limelight—known by my colleagues in government and on the Hill, but not by Canadians at large —to be taken for granted.

But fast forward a few years to today where I serve as Chair of the Board of Canadian Blood Services and that perspective changes.  For Canadian Blood Services to do such a good job that we are taken for granted is not in the Canadian public interest. And for blood donors to contribute the gift of life and to be taken for granted is not a service to the public.

When my father needed blood during open heart surgery, I took for granted that life-saving blood and blood products were there for him.  I didn’t think about how the blood got to him, or where it had come from, all I cared about was his recovery.  I didn’t think about the donors.

Now I have a much better appreciation of how dependent we all are on the generosity and selflessness of blood donors. They are what makes it real.  That is part of the “reason” why Canadian Blood Services recently launched a national campaign to focus on the “reasons” donors donate.

I am constantly reminded at Board meetings, and engagements across the country, about why these donors give of themselves to unknown recipients who receive these life saving products in their times of need. Canada relies entirely on the generosity and commitment of donors to keep the lifeline going. Donors should never be taken for granted.

And so, in honour of donors, this week was proclaimed National Blood Donor Week. Enacted by the Parliament of Canada in 2008, this year marks the 11th anniversary of legislation originally sponsored by Liberal Senator Terry Mercer and supported by Conservative Senator Ethel Cochrane to recognize and celebrate volunteer blood donors from across the country who selflessly help their fellow citizens.  It runs from June 10-16, 2019 and includes World Blood Donor Day on, June 14 which is recognized by the World Health Organization.

Like many Canadians, I assumed that every Canadian is a prospective donor—whether it is for blood, plasma, platelets, organs and tissues, or stem cells.  However, the reality is quite different. Even though most Canadians have good intentions about the act of donating blood, very few donate—in fact although one in two Canadians is eligible to donate, only one in sixty actually does. By raising awareness during this special week, we invite and encourage more people to become regular blood donors.

I had a moment of clarity about just how much donors inspire me when I attended the opening of the new Toronto donor centre at Yonge and Bloor about this time last year.  A cameraman who was shooting the event for a local TV station urged me to go and meet a gentleman who was giving his 130th donation in one of the beds.  I walked over to him, eager to let him know how much we appreciated his gift and that he was a hero. As I was telling him this, he nodded and pointed to a young woman in her twenties donating blood in the bed beside him. He told me, she is one you should be calling a hero—this is her very first donation.

Since then I take time to listen to all the reasons I can about why donors donate, and I take no donors for granted.

And I felt I should write this to remind everyone who serves in government and the public service, that they shouldn’t either.


Canadian Blood Services asking Canadians to give the “Perfect Gift”

Over 101,000 donations of blood needed to help hospital patients this holiday season

November 21, 2011 (OTTAWA) - As retailers scramble this holiday season to re-stock their shelves with holiday gifts, Canadian Blood Services is asking eligible Canadians to take one hour of their busy schedule to ensure our shelves are replenished with the gifts that will make a difference to hospital patients this season.

Between November 21 and January 2, Canadian Blood Services is asking Canadians to give the “perfect gift” this holiday season – give blood. Over 101,000 life-saving “gifts” are needed for hospital patients from coast to coast.

The average Canadian will send out 50 holiday cards this season to friends and family. If that many people gave blood, one car accident victim could be saved. Someone like twenty-three year old Malorie Butler from Halifax, Nova Scotia.

After a serious car crash in 2010 it took almost 50 blood donors to ensure Malorie got to spend the holiday season with her family and friends. Malorie flipped her car six times across a busy highway and was partially ejected from her car. The result: cracked ribs, a broken scapula, spine fracture, bumps and bruises and her liver was severely damaged.

“I feel as if I was given a second chance and it makes me feel like I have to go and do something extraordinary”, said Malorie. “I always joke that I beat the odds because I’m stubborn, but really, I have so much to live for and blood donations have allowed me to do that. My wish this holiday season is for Canadians to do something extraordinary for hospital patients and take the time to rally your family and friends to donate blood. I’m alive today because of the generosity of many Canadians.”

Malorie will be featured in holiday promotional materials, on Facebook and, and donors will be receiving a special recruitment message from Malorie during the holiday campaign. For more about Malorie’s story, please visit

Many treatments and procedures require blood products from several donors. For Malorie, almost 50 blood donors were needed to save her life. That’s why, Canadian Blood Services is rallying communities across the country this holiday season to come together – Rally Together to Save Lives – as a way to show that collectively, blood donations can make a positive impact on someone’s life.

There are plenty of opportunities to donate blood this holiday season. Making a blood donation before or after the holidays helps ensure an adequate supply for those in need. Please bring a friend or family member and donate either just before or after the holiday season. Call 1 888 2 DONATE (1 888 236 6283) or visit us online at to book an appointment today and give the perfect gift this holiday season. To help meet the continuing need for blood, donors who have an appointment in the coming weeks are urged to honour it.

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Canadian Blood Services and OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network mourn passing of Dr. Abhijit Guha

November 09, 2011 (TORONTO) – The driving force behind increased South Asian participation in blood and stem cell donation, Dr. Abhijit Guha, lost his battle with leukemia on Tuesday, November 8 in Toronto. Dr. Guha was a respected community leader who fought courageously through his personal fight with leukemia to encourage all Canadian South Asians to make stem cell and blood donation a part of their civic responsibilities for all patients.

Sue Smith, Executive Director, Stem Cells, remembers Dr. Guha as a trailblazer who brought together his community to establish South Asians 4 Life (SA4L) with a mission to help all South Asian patients in need of stem cell transplantation and blood products.

"Dr. Guha worked tirelessly to raise awareness for the need for increased diversification in both the blood and stem cell programs at Canadian Blood Services," says Sue. “It is through his dedication that OneMatch and SA4L became official partners and will continue to carry his legacy to help all patients in need.”

"On behalf of Canadian Blood Services we extend our condolences to his family," says Sue. "We are encouraging people to sign up to be a stem cell donor at and to donate blood in Dr. Guha’s honour, as many patients will be recipients of blood products while waiting for their stem cell transplants."

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Canadian Blood Services needs blood donors now

Blood Signal activated heading Into Thanksgiving long weekend to highlight the need for blood donors this fall

October 5, 2011 (OTTAWA) – Canadian Blood Services has activated the Blood Signal and is asking eligible Canadians to book an appointment to donate blood to help hospital patients in need as we approach the Thanksgiving long weekend.

Starting with Thanksgiving, and over the next six weeks, Canadian Blood Services will need more than 6,000 additional donors to book appointments to meet the needs of hospital patients all across Canada. “The need for blood and blood products is constant and we are proactively increasing our efforts to encourage Canadians to donate now,” says Sue Blasutti, Executive Director of Donor and Clinic Services at Canadian Blood Services. “It can take many units of blood to save a patient. For example, it can take 50 units of blood to help just one car accident victim.”

Canadian Blood Services has activated the Blood Signal because right now there is a greater need for blood. The Blood Signal is a visual and auditory icon that is used during increased times of need throughout the year as a reminder that the need for blood is great and serves as a rallying cry for communities to come together to save lives. The Blood Signal will be seen on-line and heard on radio stations from coast to coast this week to highlight the need for blood donors now. Long week-ends, like Thanksgiving, are a difficult time to collect blood, because people are often away or are busy with family activities. Meanwhile, the demand for blood and blood products remains strong due in part to higher traffic on the roads, which can result in more traumas requiring blood.

“Our national inventory means that no one is currently going without blood and we can draw on our reserves so that patients who need blood continue to get it,” says Blasutti. “We do, however, need to work to replenish our blood supply now and over the next six weeks heading into the holiday season. We are calling on Canadians to make an extra effort to come in and make a life-saving donation.” People willing to help with a donation can book an appointment right now by calling 1 888 2 DONATE (1 888 236 6283). Donors who already have an appointment are encouraged to make every effort to honour that appointment.

Note about the Blood Signal:
Earlier this year, Canadian Blood Services launched a bold new marketing and recruitment campaign called “Rally Together to Save Lives”. As part of the new campaign, Canadian Blood Services has also created the “Blood Signal” that is a visual and auditory icon designed to connect Canadians socially and emotionally to the idea of giving blood. The Blood Signal will be used during increased times of need throughout the year as a reminder that the need for blood is great and serves as a rallying cry for communities to come together to save lives. So, look for the Blood Signal on-line and listen for it on a radio station in your community and when you see or hear the Blood Signal, please book an appointment to donate blood by calling 1 888 2 DONATE and encourage your family and friends to join you in saving lives.

For more information or to book an appointment to donate blood, please call 1 888 2 DONATE (1 888 236 6283) today and for more information about the Blood Signal, visit

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Give Someone like Lauren a Holiday Miracle

Nearly 100,000 life-saving “miracles” needed to help hospital patients

December 3, 2012 (OTTAWA) – During the season of giving, you could give someone their holiday miracle. Between December 3rd and January 2nd, Canadian Blood Services is asking Canadians to give someone a holiday miracle – the gift of blood. Nearly 100,000 life-saving “miracles” are needed for hospital patients from coast to coast. Many hospital patients will spend their holiday receiving cancer treatment or undergoing life-saving surgery and emergency care – someone like Lauren.

Lauren was only two years old when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of kidney cancer. During treatment, she required transfusions of more than twice her body’s total blood volume. Today, Lauren is a healthy, active 15-year-old and, more importantly, is cancer free.

“As I sat by Lauren's bedside during her treatment, I saw the blood that went into her and how each and every transfusion brought life into her,” says Lauren's mother, Carolyn. “As a result of the selflessness and generosity of blood donors, Lauren has spent the past 14 holiday seasons at home with her family.”

Help someone in your community who needs blood as much as Lauren did. There are plenty of opportunities to donate blood this holiday season. Making a blood donation before or after the holidays helps ensure an adequate supply for those in need. Please bring a friend or family member and donate either just before or after the holiday season. Book your appointment at 1 888 2 DONATE (1 888-236-6283) or online at To help meet the continuing need for blood, donors who have an appointment in the coming weeks are urged to honour it.

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Canadian High School Students Rally to Deliver Gifts to Hospital Patients

FedEx Express Canada Announces Winners of National Blood Recruitment Challenge

June 20, 2012 (MISSISSAUGA, ONTARIO) - FedEx Express Canada today announced the winners of Young Blood for Life, a national high school recruitment program focused on encouraging blood donation among young people. The program was developed by Canadian Blood Services with prizes made possible through a $180,000 donation by FedEx Express Canada.

Canadian high school students aged 17 and over donated 18,339 units of blood during the program - an increase of 34 percent in collections compared to 2010 – 2011. The program also saw 6,873 new blood donors – an increase of 16 percent. Donors in this age group represent nine percent of Canada’s current blood donor population.

The results are promising because Canadian Blood Services needs to recruit over 89,000 new donors this year alone to keep pace with the growing demand for blood and blood products. Young Blood for Life took place between September 15, 2011 and May 31, 2012.

“FedEx is extremely proud to support Canadian Blood Services and play a role in saving and improving the lives of Canadians,” said Lisa Lisson, president of FedEx Express Canada. “We are excited to see this program grow and are thrilled to be a part of such an important movement among young people.”

Young Blood for Life is a national high school recruitment program focused on encouraging blood donation among young people. It relies on student leaders in high schools across Canada to advocate for blood donation with their peers. The program, now in its third year, challenges students to recruit teachers, their families and friends to donate at Canadian Blood Services’ clinics.

The winning school is St. Joseph's High School in Windsor, Ontario. They had the highest number of donors (317) of the 355 participating schools. They also had the highest number of new donors, at 127, of all the participating schools. St. Joseph’s will receive two $500 cash prizes courtesy of FedEx Express Canada in both the top new donors and top blood collections categories of the challenge. This is the second year in a row that St. Joseph’s has captured these two prizes. For a list of all the 2011 – 2012 winners please visit

The participation from Canadian students went even further than expected. This year, OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network joined the Young Blood for Life program to raise awareness of the need for younger stem cell donors, and to register new potential donors to help patients. The partnership was a natural fit as an ‘optimal stem cell donor’ is someone who is young—between the ages of 17 and 35—male, and ethnically diverse. During the period of April to June 2012, 37 high schools participated in OneMatch information and swab events (DNA sampling), adding new optimal donors to the Network.

With a target of adding 1,300 new stem cell donors to the OneMatch Network, high school swab events registered 2,261 new donors this spring.

“It’s exciting to see youth across the country making such a significant contribution to Canada’s blood system,” said Sue Blasutti, Executive Director of Donor and Clinic Services. “Especially knowing that this year, Canadian Blood Services needs to recruit over 89,000 new donors to keep pace with the growing demand for blood and blood products across Canada. Young Blood for Life contributes greatly towards meeting that goal.”

Over the next two years of the program, the FedEx contribution will continue to help Canadian Blood Services provide promotional materials and award cash prizes to participating high schools.

Students across the country can continue to Rally Together to Help Save Lives during summer vacation. You can give blood every 56 days, so chances are you can include one or two donations in your summer plans. Call 1 888 2 DONATE (1 888 236 6283) for clinic locations or to book an appointment.

About FedEx Express
FedEx Express is the world’s largest express transportation company, providing fast and reliable delivery to every U.S. address and to more than 220 countries and territories. FedEx Express uses a global air-and-ground network to speed delivery of time-sensitive shipments, by a definite time and date with a money-back guarantee.

About FedEx Corp.
FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) provides customers and businesses worldwide with a broad portfolio of transportation, e-commerce and business services. With annual revenues of $43 billion, the company offers integrated business applications through operating companies competing collectively and managed collaboratively, under the respected FedEx brand. Consistently ranked among the world's most admired and trusted employers, FedEx inspires its more than 300,000 team members to remain "absolutely, positively" focused on safety, the highest ethical and professional standards and the needs of their customers and communities. For more information, visit

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Blood Donors Provide Proof that Miracles Still Exist

Ten-year-old can still believe this holiday season, thanks to blood donors

December 2, 2013 (OTTAWA) – If a child were to look you in the eye and ask if miracles exist, what would you say? The answer might prove difficult if that child has been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.

As Canadian Blood Services launches its annual “Holiday Miracle” campaign (December 2, 2013 – January 4, 2014), people like 10-year-old Grace Hart might be wondering: if in the rush for presents, have people forgotten about miracles? Grace’s battle with diamond-blackfan anemia means that she needs regular blood transfusions to survive. In fact, she receives a blood transfusion every 21 days.

Want to meet Grace? Watch her Story below.

This holiday season, Canadian Blood Services wants to assure patients that miracles do exist, to encourage people to donate blood, and to spark discussion around the idea of holiday miracles. Based on the famous letter “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” published in the New York Sun newspaper in 1897, Canadian Blood Services has written the following open letter to Grace and all other patients in need of blood:

Yes, Grace, there are still holiday miracles. They exist whenever you see the anonymous generosity of one stranger to another. They exist when that generosity extends to saving a stranger’s life.

Don’t believe me? This holiday season, have your Mom take you on a quick visit to your local blood donor clinic. Lined up in chairs you will see people happily and generously donating. Do they know the person they are helping? They do not.

So why do they do it? Because they believe. They believe that what they are doing is right. That what they are doing will directly help or even save the life of a neighbour, a family member, a friend … even a stranger.

There is your holiday miracle, Grace. It exists in the hearts of people who, without monetary reward, without having to look into the eyes of those in need, without knowing the person they are helping , feel the urge to help anyway. It lives in those people who take one hour from their day at this very special time of year to ensure that, in the most personal and direct way possible, a patient somewhere will enjoy another holiday too.

No holiday miracles! Why, a miracle is literally flowing through our veins.

Your friends at Canadian Blood Services.

Between December 2 and January 4, Canadian Blood Services is asking Canadians to give patients a “holiday miracle” in the form of blood donations. Over 75,000 blood donations are needed for hospital patients from coast to coast during the campaign. Please call 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283) or visit


Across the country, Canadian Blood Services will be holding “miracle events” that will highlight stories about blood recipients like Grace and the blood donors who have helped them. For more information on launch events, please click here.

To be a patient’s holiday miracle, please:

  1. Call 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-283) or go online at to book an appointment to donate blood.

  2. Share your holiday miracle story on Canadian Blood Services’ Facebook page and on Twitter #giveamiracle

  3. Have your company or organization “Adopt a Recipient” and as a group make the number of donations that one anonymous person will need. For example, it can take 8 donations a week to treat one person with Leukemia, rally 8 of your friends and colleagues to make a group donation.

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Media Statement - Ottawa bus and train accident

September 18, 2013 (OTTAWA) – Canadian Blood Services extends its deepest sympathies to the families, victims and people of the train and bus accident that occurred in Ottawa earlier today.

We are currently supplying area hospitals with their requested orders of additional blood and blood products to treat the victims of this tragedy. We have been receiving numerous inquiries from people looking to donate blood. Those seeking to make such a humanitarian gesture are encouraged to do so by booking an appointment at a local blood donor clinic. While that blood may not specifically be directed to those currently in need, it is an honourable tribute that will save lives of hospital patients in Canada.

Every minute of every day, someone in Canada needs blood—in most cases, blood from more than just one generous donor. A strong national inventory of blood puts us in a good position to deal with catastrophic events and mass casualties should they happen.

When an accident happens, it is the blood that is already on the shelves in hospitals from coast to coast - blood from regular, committed blood donors – that first goes to treat those who are injured.

The people who rush in to help after a serious accident are helping us replenish the blood supply. This is why we need regular, repeat blood donors to help maintain a strong inventory of blood to ensure hospital patients get blood when they need it most.

To book an appointment to donate blood, please visit us at or call 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283).


Blood Signal extended until Labour Day

Nearly 12,000 unfilled appointments pose challenges for blood inventory; donors needed now to fill gap

July 29, 2013 (Ottawa) - As a result of nearly 12,000 unfilled appointments so far this summer, coupled with constant hospital demand, Canadian Blood Services is forecasting a need for 51,000 appointments to be filled between now and Labour Day to replenish stocks.

For that reason, Canadian Blood Services has extended the Blood Signal until Sept. 3 and is adding special “Blood Signal” clinics during the month of August in selected locations. Hours will also be extended at existing clinics to give donors even more opportunities to donate. Visit to find a clinic.

The Blood Signal is a call to action for Canadians to rally together and book a blood donation when the need is greatest - like now.

“Canadian Blood Services operates a national system and we are able to draw on our national reserves at times like these, says Susan Matsumoto, Donor and Clinic Services Executive Director. “Every summer is a challenge, but this year the trend is especially concerning as there are 51,000 appointments to fill between now and September 3 to keep blood inventory at an acceptable level.”

The summer months are always challenging for Canada’s blood supply and we are not alone; donations are soft in other countries as well. Blood systems in the U.S. and the U.K. have recently issued urgent appeals for blood donors due to fewer donations being made this summer and overall blood inventory levels falling.

“No patient goes without blood,” says Matsumoto. “But with so many open appointments we need Canadians to book and donate now.”

We ask those who already have an appointment to make every effort to keep it and, if you can, bring a friend to donate. To book an appointment is easy, please visit or call 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283). Making an appointment now will ensure that patient needs are met this summer.

Canadians are asked to give blood at their local community donor clinic during this time.

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Urgent need for blood donors by Canada Day

More than 23,000 donors across Canada needed by July 2

(OTTAWA) – Canadian Blood Services is urging Canadians to help meet patients’ needs this summer by donating blood and by encouraging others to roll up their sleeves as well. With people away or busy with other activities, there tend to be fewer donations, making summer one of the most challenging times for Canada’s blood system.  

More than 23,000 donors are urgently needed by July 2 to ensure patients continue to have access to the blood and blood products they need. 

“The summer is a time for family to relax and enjoy themselves. Yet, the need for blood and blood products is constant. The need for blood does not take a holiday,” says Rick Prinzen, Canadian Blood Services’ chief supply chain officer and vice-president of donor relations

Kiran Benet from Brampton, ON is grateful to blood donors for the critical support they provided to her 15-year-old daughter, Cierra, who required 28 blood transfusions, in addition to a life-altering stem cell transplant.

“At age 10, Cierra was diagnosed with Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS), a rare blood disorder in which the bone marrow fails to make enough viable blood cells,” says Kiran. “Life turned upside down for a couple of years until a genetically matched volunteer stem cell donor was found. Today, Cierra is preparing for her Grade 9 exams and recently celebrated her birthday. None of this would have been possible without the generosity of donors willing to help people like us.”  

Currently, the national blood inventory continues to meet patients’ needs but a boost in donations by Canada Day will ensure demand is met throughout the summer. New donors are urged to get involved.  

Canadians who are unable to give blood can encourage others in their networks to give blood on their behalf. Making an appointment to donate has never been easier. 

To book an appointment today, locate a clinic, check for eligibility and more, Canadians can download the GiveBlood app available on iOS or Android or visit