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In need of blood, Canadian Blood Services Lifesavers club looks to grow

By Mitali Pradhan, March 18 2019 —

The Canadian Blood Services Lifesavers (CBSL) at the University of Calgary aimed to increase their involvement on campus this past year. The Students’ Union-registered club recruits students to sign up as blood donors.

However, donations by CBSL members go beyond just blood donations and include plasma, platelet, stem cell, tissue and organ donations. On the Main and Foothills campuses, a team of 46 volunteers work to promote the importance of blood donation and recruit on-going donors to maintain their base. This includes mobile clinics that come to the campus to book blood donation appointments.

“Around half of all Canadians know someone who requires or has required blood or blood products in their lifetime,” CBSL president Sharadhi Ratnakar said. “It is really, really important to donate blood.”

CBSL member Pasindu Wickramarachchi said that donating blood takes approximately an hour, but students are in contact with the needle less than 10 minutes. He stressed that needles should not be the factor that deters students from donating.

The team also hosts information booths twice a month to raise awareness on the need to donate.

“In Canada, the blood donor base is very small as compared to the demand,” Wickramarachchi said. “One in two Canadians are eligible to donate but realistically only one in 60 Canadians donate, which amounts to less than four per cent of all Canadians.”

The current donor base consists of an older age group and is not sustainable in the long run, according to the club. As a result, the club is looking for student volunteers interested in the Canadian Blood Services mandate to donate blood.

Ratnakar encouraged students to donate and attend the upcoming events planned on both campuses.

Students can also book appointments for blood donations at the mobile clinic, which will be on campus later this month, or at permanent clinics around Calgary. Appointments can also be booked in information booths at MacHall on March 13 and 26.

During the week of March 18–25, the Eau Claire permanent clinic has a partnership with Village Ice Cream. Students who donate at that location will receive ice cream after their appointment.

In addition to donating, students can get involved in the CBSL club by volunteering as a general member, Wickramarachchi said. The club has a general meeting the first Monday of every month. Members are involved in making themed thank-you cards for donors and staffing the information booths around campus.

“It’s a really great way to work on your communication skills,” Wickramarachchi said. “You don’t have to donate to join the club, you can always just join the club as long as you are really interested in becoming a part of this initiative and helping promote the need to donate blood.”

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