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Every contribution Canadian Blood Services makes to health-care systems across the country ultimately depends on the generosity of hundreds of thousands of Canadians who each year contribute their time, energy, financial support and a part of themselves to make other people’s lives better. Donors of whole blood, plasma and platelets; new mothers donating their babies’ umbilical cord blood; potential stem cell and organ donors joining transplant registries; financial donors helping to fund our work on behalf of Canadian patients — all provide the various dimensions of support that are vital for our success. Our role is to forge critical connections between people who are willing to give and those who need their help.

Over the past two years, as Canadian Blood Services has reorganized to adopt an integrated operating model, we’ve made donor relations essential to the processes by which we deliver all of our products and services. In implementing this more strategic and systematic approach, we’ve focused on two areas: getting to know donors better and creating the right connections to reach them.


Over the past few years, effective approaches to blood utilization and conservation, as well as advances in medical procedures, have resulted in a slight but steady decline in the use of red blood cells. In 2014–2015, we saw a further reduction in demand of nearly four per cent. Blood operators around the world are experiencing this phenomenon, although the effect is less pronounced in Canada than in other developed nations. As the quality of care improves, patients are requiring fewer transfusions, and therefore less blood needs to be collected.

Paradoxically, even as utilization improves and hospital orders decrease slightly, we’ve experienced challenges in maintaining an optimum inventory of whole blood — because the level of donations has also declined. At one point in the past year we launched a nationwide appeal for blood donations. We’ve had to place extra focus on encouraging more repeat donors, as well as new donors to replace those lost through attrition.

There are many reasons for the lag in blood donations, but a key part of the solution is to deepen engagement with current and potential donors. Leveraging social media, mobile channels and other recruitment tactics will help us better connect with donors in the ways they prefer to be reached, improving the entire donation experience.

Stella, Arthur and Chris Chan

15 years after their son, Arthur’s, recovery from childhood blood cancer, Stella and Chris Chan continue to give back to the community and inspire others to support the blood system that helped save their son. A regular donor, Chris also uses social media to promote blood donation.