Canada facing critical shortage of O+ and O- blood supply: Canadian Blood Services

The Canadian Blood Services (CBS) only has three days’ worth of O+ and O- blood types, along with only five days’ worth of A+, A- and B- blood types as of Friday, according to its website.

The agency says that donations become “especially needed,” when the supply of these blood types drop below eight days.

In June, CBS said it had reached its smallest donor base in a decade and has struggled to replenish a critically low national supply since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agency announced in July it needed to fill 57,000 donation appointment slots by the end of August, shortly after facing backlash the same month for removing its mandatory face mask policy.

The move has led to some donors to say they’re considering cancelling or delaying upcoming appointments.

CBS currently doesn’t accept donations from gay and bisexual men as well as some other folks in the LGBTQ2S+ community, unless they have been abstinent for three months.

Despite Health Canada authorizing CBS to move away from the blanket ban in April, the national blood donor organization has yet to pivot to screening all donors based on higher risk sexual behaviours, regardless of gender or sexuality. 

The agency says it plans to introduce the new behaviour-based questionnaire approach “no later” than Sept. 30.

There is also an ongoing blood shortage crisis taking place in the U.S. The American Red Cross announced in January that it is facing its worst blood shortage in over a decade amid a surge in Omicron cases leading to “low donor turnouts,” the agency says.

“While some types of medical care can wait, others can’t,” said Dr. Pampee Young, chief medical officer of the Red Cross, in a press release at the time.

“We’re doing everything we can to increase blood donations to ensure every patient can receive medical treatments without delay, but we cannot do it without more donors.”

According to Red Cross Blood Services, there is a one-year shelf life for frozen plasma, a 42-day shelf life for red blood cells, and a five-day shelf life for platelets for donations.

Anyone who wants to donate to CBS is being asked to book an appointment on their website.

With files from The Canadian Press

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