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General · 16th April 2016
Pat Peterson
There has been recent discussion regarding blood donation on island. Unfortunately, Canadian Blood Services is not able to come to more rural communities but does come to Campbell River regularly every two months or so at the community center. Anyone can donate blood but there are some exceptions. One has to be in good health, have no current infections, age 17 or older (height and weigh requirements), with a controlled blood pressure. Individuals must wait for one year after receiving a blood transfusion before they can donate. One must also wait six months after receiving a tattoo or a body piercing. Similarly, one must wait for 3 weeks after travelling outside of Canada, continental USA and/or Europe. There is a full list of restrictions on-line at the website listed below. One can donate blood every 56 days for whole blood, 7 days for platelets and two weeks for plasma (latter two blood components).
For further information and to search out the next time the clinic is in Campbell River go to
When you go to donate blood your blood type will be identified. Although simplified here, there are four major blood types: A, B, AB and O. Your blood type is passed down to you from your parents, and you maintain this for life. Determining your blood type involves identifying a protein or antigen that is on your red blood cell. If you are type A, you have antigen A but also antibodies against type B blood. Thus if you are given blood that is type B, the antibodies you carry attack the type B and it is destroyed. This is deemed incompatible. if you are type B you have antigen B but antibodies to type A. If you are type AB, you have both antigens A or B but you have no antibodies. Type AB is called the universal recipient because they can get blood from any of the other blood types. However, no other group than AB can get AB blood. Type O blood contains no antigens but does have antibodies to both A and B. Type O can be given to any blood group: it is deemed the universal donor. Individuals with type O blood can only receive the same. AB appears to be the rarest of blood types followed by B, then O.
When your blood is typed, it is also identified as Rh (meaning rhesus) positive or negative. Rh is also a protein on the surface of a red blood cell, either you have it (Rh positive) or you do not (Rh negative. This factor is also inherited. Rh positive is most common. Thus if your blood type is A you are either A positive or A negative. This follows for all the other 3 types. Generally speaking, Rh factor becomes a big concern in pregnancy. If the Mother is Rh negative and the Father is Rh positive, the baby can be Rh positive. During pregnancy and birth, there is potential for blood from the Rh positive baby to mix with the Mother’s Rh negative blood with the end result that the Mother develops antibodies to the Rh positive blood. These antibodies can cause blood clotting issues for this child or subsequent children born to this Mother. Most Rh negative woman receive something called rhogram both during and after their pregnancies to prevent the development of antibodies.
Blood is a precious gift to donate. In island health alone, there are 22,000 units of blood components and 23,000 vials of plasma derivatives used yearly for over 7,000 recipients at a cost of $22,000,000. Virtually all whole blood donated is broken down into separate components such as packed red blood cells (contains hemoglobin) plasma (serum in blood, contains clotting factors), cryoprecipitate (further reduction of plasma that contains certain clotting factors used for individuals with specific clotting disorders such as hemophilia) or platelets (clots blood). This way individuals receive only the component that they need at the time and lessens the burden on the blood bank. People receive transfusions for many reasons: blood loss during surgery, blood loss from trauma/burns, cancer patients and others who may not be able to make their own blood, or those with a blood disorder. If you need elective surgery and have the potential to need blood, discuss this with your family practitioner. You may be able to donate your own blood before the surgery for use if needed.