blood supply

Urgent need for blood donors by Canada Day

Monday, June 18, 2018

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


Letter to the editor of Maclean’s in response to “A bloody mess: The story behind paid plasma in Canada” as published on Nov. 22, 2017

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Having spent the last two decades rebuilding Canada’s blood system and regaining the trust of Canadians in this critical part of the health fabric of the country, Canadian Blood Services feels compelled to respond to Anne Kingston’s article. While the article delves into many aspects of the complex world of plasma collections, it also contains statements that are inaccurate and unsubstantiated, not the least of which is the assertion that our organization has attempted to intimidate the regulator. This is untrue, not supported by the record, and fails to recognize the necessity of ongoing dialogue between blood system operator and regulator on matters of crucial interest to Canadians.

Canadian Blood Services was founded in 1998 to manage the national supply of blood, blood products and stem cells, and related services for all the provinces and territories (excluding Quebec), based on recommendations from the Krever Report on the tainted blood scandal. We put patients first, and are dedicated to improving patient outcomes through the manufacturing and delivery of safe, relevant, quality products and services to Canadians. I am writing today to clarify the role and perspective of Canadian Blood Services in the public debate on the emergence of commercial, for-profit plasma collection companies in Canada.

Canadian Blood Services has always monitored and managed plasma in Canada, which includes both safety and the security of supply. In 2004, we consulted with experts, governments, patient groups and other key stakeholders and determined that we would meet 100 per cent of patient need for intravenous immune globulins (Ig), the plasma protein products or plasma-derived drug in highest demand by patients, by collecting 40 per cent of the raw plasma needed to make plasma protein products, with the remaining 60 per cent of Ig demand met through finished drugs purchased from the international pharmaceutical industry (largely from the U.S.). In the years that followed, we determined Canada could safely lower the sufficiency target. However, recent increases in demand, coupled with the newly emerging threats to the global supply of plasma, have resulted in the need to bring the country’s sufficiency to a recommended 50 per cent. This approach balances the risk of a supply interruption with affordability of products, and provides some geographic redundancy. While it is true that the safety of plasma protein products was a concern in the 1980s and before, this has not been an area of concern since the modernization of fractionation and purification processes. 

Over the years, the security of supply issue has been erroneously confused with the safety of plasma protein products made from raw plasma from paid donors. Canadian Blood Services has clearly stated that plasma protein products derived from remunerated plasma donors do not present a safety issue. There is no evidence that the level of safety of plasma protein products made from paid donors versus unpaid donors, differs. In addition to screening donors and thoroughly testing plasma, there are multiple steps built into the fractionation process known as inactivation steps and purification steps; the plasma products are rendered free of pathogens. Ultimately, plasma protein products are exceedingly safe, a fact that patient organizations themselves believe and support. This is the evidence-based position we have consistently shared with our funders and regulator. Indicating otherwise is misleading and misguided, especially given the thousands of patients in Canada who rely on life-saving and life-sustaining plasma-derived drugs. Not only is fostering panic over unfounded safety concerns potentially devastating to patients, it also introduces unnecessary confusion into the debate. That said, and consistent with the principles to which Canadian Blood Services has consistently held itself, we do not intend to pay plasma donors in our system.

Long-term security of the plasma supply for Ig can only be achieved through increased plasma collection by the publicly funded and publicly accountable not-for-profit blood system we operate on behalf of Canadians. Commercial plasma collectors are not bound to keep the products they collect from Canadians for use by Canadians; they can sell their products on the open market to the highest international bidder. For-profit companies also have no responsibility to consider the impact of paid plasma donations on the unpaid blood donor base. There is evidence internationally, not just in Canada, that when the for-profit, paid plasma systems expand rapidly, it can reduce the ability of the not-for-profit blood industry to meet its blood collection targets. In Hungary, for example, the expansion of for-profit, remunerated plasma collection entities has substantially affected the public blood operator’s ability to collect blood in that country (up to a 20 percent decline in blood donations). Even in more established markets, such as the United States, concerns are being raised that the significant expansion of for-profit paid plasma collection sites is impacting the non-remunerated blood operators’ ability to maintain market penetration. While Canadian Blood Services can likely manage the local challenges brought about by the presence of one or two for-profit clinics, it is the emergence of additional for-profit plasma collection sites, particularly larger-scale operations, that is of concern.

As the stewards of Canada’s blood system, we work with all levels of governments, patient organizations, suppliers, global experts, our counterparts in other countries and all other stakeholders within our evidence-based and risk-based decision-making framework in a transparent manner. As we manage the plasma protein product formulary for Canada, we meet with all potential players in the system. Canadian Plasma Resources did approach Canadian Blood Services. We have aimed to understand their business plan and have determined that their interests do not align with ours or with achieving domestic security of supply.
Canadian Blood Services shared an ambitious plan with governments almost one year ago, outlining how we will ensure a safe and secure supply of plasma needed to manufacture plasma protein products for Canadian patients by owning the infrastructure – starting with the collection of raw plasma and ending with securing access to plasma protein products for Canadian patients. The plan provides a roadmap for significantly increasing the amount of plasma we collect from Canadian donors, as per our voluntary, non-remunerated (unpaid), publicly funded collections model.  At the conference of provincial and territorial health ministers in Edmonton in October 2017, “there was consensus that immediate action is needed to improve and expand domestic plasma collection,” as noted in a news release issued by ministers. We look forward to the report from Health Canada’s Expert Panel on Immune Globulin Product Supply and Related Impacts in Canada, and to governments’ response to our plan. Canadians rely on our system to supply them with the blood and blood products that they need, and we must work together in their best interest.



Dr. Graham Sher
Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Blood Services

For more information on plasma, please visit our website.
For more information on our plans to ensure a safe a secure supply of plasma, please see our statement.


Update: Critical need for donors continues as Canada’s supply of universal blood type dips beneath two days

Monday, June 19, 2017

(OTTAWA) – Throughout National Blood Donor Week from June 11 to 17, Canadian Blood Services urged Canadians to make an appointment to donate. More than 60,000 blood donors need to book appointments to donate by July 1 to ensure all patients have access to the blood and blood products they need.

A noticeable increase in blood donations across the country last week indicates many Canadians have responded. However, the need for donors remains critical.

All eligible donors are urged to book an appointment now to help replenish supplies.

Less than two days’ supply of O-negative blood

The national inventory slipped below two days’ supply of O-negative blood last week, maintaining the urgency for more donations.

At any given time, between a five and eight day supply of blood and blood products are needed to meet anticipated hospital demand. All blood types are needed but there is a greater need for type O blood.

As the universal blood type, O-negative is always in need. O-negative is the only blood type compatible with all others and is used in the most critical situations, including treatment for newborns, patients with compromised immune systems, and for trauma victims.

By holding a steady national inventory of blood, patients can be assured their needs will be met. Avoiding low inventory levels means Canadian Blood Service and hospitals can maintain appropriate patient care across the country.

Critical need for donors

Canadian patients urgently need donations to return Canada’s low blood supply to an optimal level.

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


Canadian Blood Services celebrates ground breaking for new operations facility

Friday, May 19, 2017

Site to meet biologics manufacturing needs and better serve Canadian patients

(CALGARY) – Canadian Blood Services welcomed over 70 invited guests to an official groundbreaking ceremony to mark the beginning of the construction phase of a new operations facility on Barlow Trail. After a move from its present downtown location, the facility will include production, testing and distribution capabilities in a location closer to major transportation routes – helping ensure that Canadians get the blood products they need, when they need them.

The facility, set to open in 2020, will provide a modern and attractive work environment for employees and ensure that hospitals and patients benefit from a strategically located facility, providing high quality products and services.

“We need to find innovative ways to meet the commitments we have made to Canadians, as efficiently as possible, on behalf of the patients we serve. The most important part of our new facility is that it will enable Calgary to process about 24 per cent of the 17,000 units of whole blood that Canadian Blood Services collects for Canadian patients each week,” said Dr. Graham Sher, chief executive officer of Canadian Blood Services, during today’s ceremony.

Most importantly, this new facility was designed to ensure that Canadian patients receive the blood and blood products they need to survive. This is a need that is close to the heart of Melissa Ball, whose 11-year-old daughter, Brienna, was diagnosed with primary immunodeficiency disease and crohns/colitis in 2016. Brienna requires blood products twice per week to treat her condition. Brienna and her mother were on hand to witness the proceedings.

Canadian Blood Services works with Canada’s provinces and territories to ensure that a safe, secure and reliable blood system is available to all Canadians..

“Congratulations to Canadian Blood Services on this new operations centre. Our national blood supply is a valuable public resource, which our government is committed to protecting. We look forward to working with Canadian Blood Services to ensure Albertans – and everyone in this country – has access to the public blood supply when they need it," said the Honorable Brandy Payne, Associate Minister of Health.

When Canadian Blood Services assumed responsibility for the national blood system in 1998, it operated out of existing buildings formerly held by the Red Cross. In 2005, funding from Canada’s provinces and territories facilitated the launch of a program designed to modernize facilities and provide more efficient services. The beginning of the National Facilities Redevelopment Program focused on the Maritimes and South - Central Ontario. The Calgary operations facility is part of the next phase now underway in Western Canada. This phase includes a new clinic in Saskatoon and a collection facility opening in Calgary’s Eau Claire Market on July 10.

To discover all the ways you can Give Life and to book an appointment, download the GiveBlood app or visit

By the numbers:

  • The new facility will feature:
    • 153,000 square feet, gross square footage of the future operations facility;
    • 21,600 square feet of production space;
    • 18,000 square feet of testing space; and
    • 28,100 square feet of warehousing, logistics and distribution space to deliver blood and blood products.
  • Seventeen thousand (17,000) units of blood must be collected every week to meet the needs of hospital patients.
  • One in two Canadians is eligible to donate but one in 60 does.

Canada’s blood supply needs a boost before summer

Monday, May 15, 2017

Inventory of blood needs an injection of 150,000 donations by July 1


With summer’s unofficial kick-off approaching this May long weekend, Canadian Blood Services is calling on all eligible Canadians to roll up their sleeves for patients.


Canadian Blood Services boosts the blood supply every spring to prepare for the summer, when routines are disrupted as regular donors join the thousands of Canadians who head outdoors or out of town to enjoy the warm weather.


This year, a stormy winter and a wet spring have left inventory levels lower than normal. That means there’s enough blood on the shelves to meet patient needs today, but supplies need to increase before the summer months.


Cancer patients, accident victims, and people with blood disorders rely on blood transfusions every day even during the summer. When there are fewer people around to donate, there needs to be more blood on the shelves to ensure patients get what they need.


Canadians are strongly encouraged to roll up their sleeves to build the blood supply to the level it needs to be.


Mark Donnison, vice president, donor relations, reminds us that “for patients, the demand for blood never takes a holiday. We need 16,000 blood donations every week to stock our shelves and continue to help patients throughout the summer.”


While there’s a greater need for Type O blood, all donors are encouraged to book an appointment today. There are at least 3,000 appointments each and every week left waiting to be filled.


Did you know?


Even though half of the Canadian population is eligible to donate, only four per cent of people do. That small group provides blood for everyone, so as Canada marks its 150th anniversary, one way Canadians can celebrate is to respond in high numbers. Bring a friend or make it an event by donating as a group.


To make a difference and save a life:

  • Book and keep your next appointment.
  • Bring along friends, family members or coworkers to donate with you. Almost all first-time donors do so as a group.
  • Walk into a clinic and donate on the spot. For a list of current clinics, please visit or download the mobile app.


To book an appointment, use the Give Blood App for Apple or Android or visit