Brampton - It's a rallying cry that police, fire and paramedic services are the first to respond to. The three branches of emergency services are pumping up for this year's Sirens for Life campaign, an annual battle that gets a little bloody and, in so doing, saves a lot of lives. In partnership with Canadian Blood Services, this year's emergency services blood donor challenge runs from July 1st to Sept. 5th as the three branches compete to donate the most blood. Although the competition for bragging rights is friendly, every police, fire or EMS worker knows the importance of blood.
For this year's Canadian Blood Services' Sirens for Life blood donor challenge, the goal is to collect 1,100 units of blood and to increase the number of young, ethnically diverse registrants on the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network.
"The need for blood doesn't take a summer vacation and police, fire and EMS workers know this more than most. That's one of the reasons the workers of each branch are rallying together and rolling up their sleeves to donate the most blood for their community," says Karry Kwan, Community Development Coordinator at Canadian Blood Services.
"They are on the frontline everyday and know lives can change in an instant. Anyone can need blood at anytime."
It takes far more blood than most realize to help save a life. It can require 50 units of blood to save a person in a car collision.That equates to 50 blood donors. Patients treated for leukemia can need 8 units of blood every week, which translates to 8 blood donors each week.
As we move into summer holidays, Canadian Blood Services urges local residents to also rally behind emergency services staff and donate at local blood donor clinics. Blood donations from Sirens for Life personnel and supporters help combat an increase in the number of missed and cancelled appointments due to vacations and busy schedules. Missed and cancelled appointments intensify the difficulty of maintaining summer blood inventory levels at optimum five-day supply levels.
This is the third year Sirens for Life participants are also registering as stem cell donors with the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network to help the 894 Canadians currently searching for an unrelated stem cell donor match. For these patients, a stem cell transplant may be the last and best hope for recovery from diseases such as leukemia, aplastic anaemia, immune dysfunctions and genetic disorders. Only about 30% of patients are lucky enough to find a match from within their own family. For some 70% of those in need, an unrelated donor is their only hope. Registration is easy and DNA testing is completed with a simple cheek swab kit sent by mail.
To make an appointment to give blood this summer, to learn about eligibility requirements or to find the nearest blood donor clinic location, call 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283) or visit blood.ca.
To register as a stem cell donor, or for more information about the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network, visit onematch.ca.
OneMatch and Blood - By the Numbers:
- It's estimated that 1 out of 2 Canadians is eligible to donate blood. Last year, 1 in 60 actually did. If you are 17 or older and in good health, you can probably donate blood.
- On average, someone in Canada requires blood or blood products every 60 seconds. About 52 per cent of Canadians say they or a family member have needed blood or blood products for surgery or medical treatment. (Ipsos-Reid)
- The need for blood is constant because of limited shelf life: platelets, a blood component used by many cancer patients, must be transfused within five days of donation so it isn't possible to "stock up."Donating around long weekends helps to maintain the constant supply needed by hospitals.
- People who are in good health and between the ages of 17 and 50 are encouraged to join OneMatch. There are nearly 278,000 registrants currently on the OneMatch donor base.
- A patient's best chance at finding a stem cell match is from within their own ethnic background, so there is an ongoing need to diversify the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network registry to better represent Canada's population. Registrants who are young and from ethnically diverse backgrounds are especially needed.
About Canadian Blood Services
Canadian Blood Services is a national, not-for-profit charitable organization that manages the supply of blood and blood products in all provinces and territories outside of Québec. Canadian Blood Services also oversees the OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network, and provides national leadership for organ and tissue donation and transplantation. Canadian Blood Services operates 43 permanent collection sites and more than 20,000 donor clinics annually.The provincial and territorial Ministries of Health provide operational funding to Canadian Blood Services. The federal government, through Health Canada, is responsible for regulating the blood system. For more information, please visit our Web site at www.blood.ca.