For anyone living in the Kootenay Boundary, Kelowna is the nearest place to give blood. Individuals who meet the health requirements to give blood and plan on travelling within Canada, are encouraged to check out the clinic locator on the Canadian Blood Services website, www.blood.ca.

For anyone living in the Kootenay Boundary, Kelowna is the nearest place to give blood. Individuals who meet the health requirements to give blood and plan on travelling within Canada, are encouraged to check out the clinic locator on the Canadian Blood Services website, www.blood.ca.

Why are blood donor clinics gone from rural centres like Trail?

The recent story about a plea to donate blood, sparked much dialogue on the Trail Times website

How often have you thought about giving blood?

The fact is, anyone living from Trail to Nelson and all areas between, hasn’t been able to give blood locally for at least 20 years – the nearest donor clinics are in Kelowna.

Every now and then a story hits close to home and brings to light these certain rural realities, such as the nearest place to give “the gift of life,” is a mountainous 300+ kilometres away.

An article about blood cancer survivor Jayden Lutz published on the Trail Times website right before Christmas. The 20-year old Langley man, a university student, credits his life to multiple blood transfusions so he was pleading the public to step up and give to Canadian Blood Services.

By far, Jayden’s story sparked more well wishes, replies, and general conversation than any other story that week. Respondents questioned if donor clinics could return to the Trail area because they were all more than happy to give blood.

So the Trail Times reached out to Canadian Blood Services and asked about the possibility of bringing a clinic closer to the immediate area.

The bottom line is logistics and of course, cost.

What that boils down to is this: donors will have to keep travelling to the Okanagan or beyond to give the gift of life.

“Indeed, the story on Jayden Lutz has been well-received,” began Marcelo Dominguez, strategic communications specialist for Canadian Blood Services. “We hope it inspires more eligible blood donors to support hospital patients. That said, although there is strong community support for patients in many parts of B.C., we’re not able to accommodate all potential donors with our clinic schedule/locations.”

Canadian Blood Services runs dozens of permanent clinic sites throughout Canada, Dominguez said.

“And we hold collection events at more than 900 mobile clinic venues every year. Decisions around where and when we run clinics are based on a number of factors including the number of units collected, labour and transportation costs, the distance and access to the nearest production site and the need to operate an efficient blood system.”

Solely from a logistics standpoint, he pointed out the need to transport staff and all equipment to and from Vancouver where staff is based. In addition, the organization has to provide meals and, at times, overnight accommodation for staff. Most critical, however, is the absolute necessity to transport collected blood back to Canadian Blood Services in a timely manner for manufacturing into life-saving products.

“Canadian Blood Services works in a highly-regulated environment that demands that the blood we collect at our mobile clinics be delivered for manufacturing within a very tight time frame,” Dominguez explained.

“Holding a clinic in a more remote location could impact our ability to ship the blood quickly to our manufacturing sites. Ultimately, logistical challenges mean that we must focus on collecting blood in more densely-populated areas.”

Another difficulty he noted, is the inability to know how many people wish to donate blood, but because of distance, are unable to do so.

“However, please know that we consistently assess our ability to meet hospital and patient demand for blood and blood products,” Dominguez said. “Should it ever become necessary to expand our mobile clinics to meet higher demand, we will make every effort to do so.”

Canadian Blood Services welcomes feedback from people and communities who are engaged in supporting Canada’s blood supply, he concluded.

“The good news is that individuals who meet the health requirements to donate blood can do so within B.C. or in other locations across Canada. The next time potential donors travel within Canada, the clinic locator on our website, www.blood.ca, is a useful tool to help them find a clinic nearby.”

Canadian Blood Services is a national, nonprofit charitable organization that manages the blood supply in all provinces and territories of Canada, outside Quebec. The organization oversees the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network and is taking steps to increase transplant opportunities for patients by collecting and storing umbilical cord blood stem cells from Canadian donors. A team of 4,300 staff and 17,000 volunteers help Canadian Blood Services operate 36 permanent collection sites, two bloodmobiles, eight OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network field sites and more than 22,000 donor clinics annually. Canadian Blood Services took over the program from the Canadian Red Cross and Canadian Blood Agency in September 1998. That was after a royal commission, called the Krever Commission, (or Krever Inquiry) investigated allegations that the system of government, private, and non-governmental organizations responsible for supplying blood and blood products to the health care system had allowed contaminated blood to be used.