With the state of emergency lifted, blood supply needs replenishing

Other provinces stepped in when Newfoundland needed it but the supply needs to be refilled.

Other provinces stepped in when Newfoundland needed it, but local donations are required.

a man donating platelets
Tony Tobin donates platelets Wednesday at Canadian Blood Services in St. John’s. After the state of emergency in St. John’s, hundreds of donation appointments were cancelled.  Allan Bradbury Kicker

Allan Bradbury

After St. John’s was buried in 76 centimeters of snow on Jan. 17, a state of emergency was declared which caused blood collection services to come to a halt for over a week.

Gordon Skiffington is in charge of Newfoundland operations for Canadian Blood Services. He says there is some ground to make up after the more than week-long state of emergency.

“We lost eight days at the donor centre,” Skiffington said. “It’s approximately 350 units (of blood) that we did not collect here in the province over those eight days.”

Skiffington says the province goes through between 300 and 400 units of blood per week so it’s important to get the blood supply back up after the missed appointments.

In addition to the collection centre on Wicklow Street in St. John’s being closed, a mobile donor clinic in Grand Falls-Windsor had to be cancelled. The required staff were not allowed to leave the city because of the state of emergency.

Essential staff were on hand in St. John’s during the state of emergency to ensure area hospitals were well supplied and patient care was unaffected.

“I had an appointment last week and I missed it because of the storm.”

With highways covered in snow, and the city of St. John’s cut off from the rest of the province, Skiffington says blood was distributed to hospitals outside the metro area from other distribution centres such as Dartmouth, N.S.

“It’s a very efficient network which we have in place,” Skiffington said. “We can move blood from one part of the country quite quickly, within a matter of hours … we have a very good logistics supply chain.”

With St. John’s International Airport closed because of the state of emergency, blood was flown from other provinces into airports like those in Gander and Deer Lake. It was then delivered to hospitals and health centres that needed it.

Student Emily Simms was one of the donors who filled the Wicklow Street collection centre Wednesday.

“I had an appointment last week and I missed it because of the storm,” Simms said. “So I’m here today.”

Simms, 27, started giving blood with her parents as soon as she was old enough and on Wednesday, reached the 20-donation mark.

Tony Tobin was in donating platelets on Wednesday. He goes in every two weeks and has donated 542 times.

“It’s more of a social event for me,” Tobin said with a chuckle.

Despite access to the national network, the goal is for the province to be self-sufficient.

Skiffington also says Newfoundland needs to be prepared and come to the aid of other provinces during emergencies.

“We need to rebuild our supply now over the coming weeks,” Skiffington said. “Who’s to say that in the next couple of days or week that one of the other provinces wouldn’t need blood from us?”

For more information visit blood.ca

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