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Canada Canadian Blood Services Calls For More Blood From Visible Minorities

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
June 13, 2011

Canadian Blood Services calls for more blood from visible minorities

Tristin Hopper Jun 13, 2011 – 12:28 PM ET | Last Updated: Jun 13, 2011 5:44 PM ET


Canadian Blood Services

The Blood Signal, a Batman-style logo to be displayed
only when Canadian hospitals are desperate for blood

As Canada’s aging population drives up blood demand, Canadian Blood Services is issuing a call for more blood from visible minorities, and will use a Batman-style “Blood Signal” to motivate the population at large when reserves run low.

Rally Together to Save Lives, a campaign launched Monday by Canadian Blood Services, is looking to recruit more Canadians from “ethnic communities” to help meet Canada’s “future blood requirements.”

“We need our donors across Canada to reflect this country’s cultural mosaic. That means we need more people from ethnic communities to become regular blood donors to help those in their community,” read a Monday press release.

With millions of immigrants apiece, Toronto and Vancouver are receiving particular focus from the Canadian Blood Services campaign, especially “Chinese, South Asian, and Filipino” communities.

Immigrant communities remain underpresented among blood donors, the organization said. Visible minorities represent 20% of the Canadian population, yet they constitute just 7% of blood donors. “There is a big gap that we want to close,” said Tony Steed, director of marketing and recruitment for Canadian Blood Services.

Part of the problem is awareness. Language barriers inevitably play a factor, since Canadian Blood Services is legally bound to only provide services in French and English. For that reason, the organization is “reaching out primarily to second- or third-generation Canadians,” Mr. Steed said.

Immigrants from some countries are disallowed from giving blood. Africans are barred from donating due to HIV concerns, for instance. So are people who spent more than three months in the United Kingdom between 1980 and 1996, at the height of the prevalence of mad cow disease.

As the fastest-growing sector of the Canadian population, immigrant communities provide the richest source for regular, long-term blood donors. By 2015, Canadian Blood Services is looking to recruit 500,000 new members. In that same period, immigrant communities are expected to grow by more than a million people. “We really do need to tap into that growth to grow our donor base,” Mr. Steed said.

A greater diversity of blood donors is also important since, in rare cases, blood transfusions need to be race-specific. “An example is sickle cell disease, where we do have to look specifically for a black donor to best meet the needs to a black patient,” Mr. Steed said.

Across Canada, about 15 million Canadians are eligible to give blood, and 480,000 actually do. In a 2011 study, researchers in British Columbia found that the typical Canadian blood donor was motivated more by peer pressure more than altruism. “If you grow up in a [blood donating] family … it’s automatic, it’s expected of you,” said one donor interviewed for the study.

While ethnic neighbourhoods may currently lag in donor numbers, they have all the right ingredients for becoming blood donation heavyweights. “We found that in small communities, people take ownership in a blood clinic, and there’s a better sense of being part of a greater cause,” said Andre Smith, one of the study’s authors. He said the Sikh community is already extremely active in blood donation, for instance.

Canada’s blood demand is expected to spike over the next decade as millions of Canadians transition into old age. “Over half of blood is used by individuals aged 65 and over,” Mr. Steed said. Many of the middle-aged Canadians who now provide the majority of Canada’s blood reserves will soon become blood recipients.

Monday also marked the launch of the “Blood Signal,” a Batman-style icon that will be broadcast by Canadian Blood Service on TV, radio and the Internet whenever the country’s blood reserves drop to low levels.

Summer is a challenging season for Canadian Blood Services. Although blood demand goes down slightly thanks to a slowdown in surgeries, levels of blood donations drop significantly as donors cancel their appointments to go on vacation.

National Post

source: http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/0...calls-for-more-blood-from-visible-minorities/
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