The Canadian Blood Services has issued an immediate call for blood donors as its inventory declines.
The service says empty donor beds and the constant need for blood has brought added pressures, with inventory dropping 25 per cent since the start of April.
The low reserves can be replenished before patients are hit by the effects, but only if people across the country of all blood types donate over the coming weeks.
"Donor attendance had remained strong during past waves of COVID-19, but we have seen a notable shift since mid-March," said Rick Prinzen, Canadian Blood Services' chief supply chain officer and vice-president of donor relations, in a news release.
"We have experienced a 10 per cent increase in late cancellations and missed appointments influenced by recent illness, isolation requirements and the lifting of restrictions and a seven per cent rise in deferrals related in part to increased travel."
Infection control measures are still in place to protect those who decide to donate, as well as staff and volunteers. Measures include wellness screening, mandatory masks and physical distancing — plus a fully vaccinated workplace.
An increase in donations of all blood types before Canada Day would ensure there is enough of each blood type available for patients across the country.
"We are grateful to donors for their support, but at the beginning of the pandemic we said the effort to ensure there’s enough blood to meet patient needs would be continuous like a marathon, not a sprint," Prinzen added.
"We are now in a precarious situation as we emerge from the sixth wave of COVID-19. Given the uncertainty of future variants and what living with COVID-19 is going to look like, along with the increased need for donors over the summer months that are typically a challenging time for blood and plasma collections, patients rely on new and returning donors to show up and help us this week, next month and for months to come. Lives depend on it."
According to Canadian Blood Services, one in two people in Canada are eligible to donate blood, plasma and platelets, but just one in 81 does.
"If you’ve never donated before, and are well, eligible to donate, and able to leave home, please book and honour your appointment to help patients. [...] With thousands of open spots to fill before, during and after the May long weekend, there are plenty of opportunities for folks to show up and help."
Those wanting to donate must have appointments, but some same day appointments are also available at many centres and community events across Canada.
Donors who are unable to make an appointment are asked to cancel and re-book for the next month.
The service says this will help efforts to find someone else to take their place.
A full list of locations is available online.