Canadian Blood Services (CBS) has initiated an ambitious effort to collect 5,000 units of blood between January 11 and March 31, 2010. Their challenge, Blood 101: Canadian Students Saving Lives, involves 23 Canadian campuses, including UofT, challenging each other in a friendly competition to meet or exceed desired blood collection goals.

Canadian Blood Services is a not-for-profit, charitable organization dedicated to managing the blood and blood products supply across Canada. They collect roughly 850,000 units of blood annually, screening each donor for transferable diseases. In conjunction with the Canadian Blood Services Youth Committee, they hope to dwarf last year’s tally of 2908 units.

Currently, baby boomers represent the highest percentage of blood donors in Canada. As this generation ages and becomes recipients themselves, the next age group must take the reins to keep the blood pumping.

"It is imperative to educate the next generation about the importance of blood donation so that they can continue to supply Canadian patients," said Roop Sidhu, CBS Community Development Coordinator

"Every donation can save up to three lives."

Blood products are used every day to treat a variety of medical problems from bleeding disorders to cancer patients and birth defects. Sidhu encourages students to donate individually or with a group at the 67 College Street clinic. Students can also donate platelets. With a shelf life of only five days, platelets are used for heart surgery, chemotherapy, and marrow transplants.

Waiting to be screened, young Matthew from Richmond Hill has been a regular donor for years.

“My father got me into it," he said. "It always makes me feel good to do something for my community."

Meanwhile, Don was given juice and crackers to begin replacing fluids and to increase his blood sugar levels after his donations. “Since my blood type is very rare, they asked me to donate some platelets as well,” said middle-aged Don. “I started donating blood when I was about sixteen and I've been donating regularly since.”

Siwei Chen, a second-year Toxicology and Psychology student, is the President of the CBS Youth Committee. She said the group's objectives are to recruit and retain blood donors through community-based events, but more importantly, to educate the public about the need for donations.

“I became more informed about the blood system through volunteering for Canadian Blood Services,” she said, “and I wanted to share that passion with others who wanted to make a difference.”

The 67 College Street clinic is open for donations four days a week, 12:00 - 7:00 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays 7:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m. Students can also donate at the Multifaith Blood Drive (67 College) on Jan. 27, 2:00 - 7:00 p.m. Register at www.multifaith.utoronto.ca. The Med Sci Mobile Clinic will run 11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. on Feb. 11 in the Stone Lobby of the Med Sci Building.

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