Canadian Blood Services increases iron guidelines for donors
Howard Alexander - News Editor
FILE PHOTO - A bag of blood is shown at a clinic in Montreal, Thursday, November 29, 2012. Tougher iron guidelines for blood donors will almost certainly reduce collections in the short term, said a spokesman for Canadian Blood Services as the national agency appealed for more donations.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
October 26, 2016 - 6:00 AM
OTTAWA - Tougher iron guidelines for blood donors will almost certainly reduce collections in the short term, said a spokesman for Canadian Blood Services as the national agency appealed for more donations.
Stricter rules will soon force female donors to wait longer between donations and male donors will have to pass a stricter hemoglobin test.
It's all meant to promote health and wellness among donors, but the director of donor relations for Ontario said it will also reduce the amount of blood they can collect from regular patrons.
"They're very significant. It will seriously impact our collections," Michael Betel said Tuesday from Toronto of the changes.
"As you can imagine, there are a lot of female donors and so it's something that we took the time to be able to implement."
Starting Dec. 10, female donors will need to wait 12 weeks between blood donations instead of the current eight-week period.
And starting March 5, 2017, male donors must have a minimum hemoglobin level of 130 grams per litre, up from 125 grams per litre.
The combined impact is expected to be approximately 2.7 to 5.8 per cent of all blood donations — a loss of approximately 22,000 to 47,000 blood donations per year. Roughly 820,000 units is collected per year, with each unit amounting to roughly 450 millilitres.
"The key here is we really need to get new donors. We're still at a place where only one in 60 Canadians donate blood — and one in two are eligible," Betel said.
He said the agency has about 400,000 regular donors, with the average donor visiting twice a year. But the service also loses about 175,000 donors a year.
Hemoglobin is a protein found in red blood cells that is necessary for carrying oxygen to the tissues in the body.
Iron is an essential element for producing hemoglobin, but it is also found in other parts of the body. The blood services agency said it's possible to have normal hemoglobin levels but to have low iron.
Betel, who said the changes are based on studies conducted in 2012 and 2014, encouraged new donors to come in with a friend.
"Year-to-date we're on target but the last month or so has been softer."
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2016