Blood donations still safe and welcome

By Gordon Lambie

On Monday afternoon, Quebec Premier Francois Legault put out a call to Quebecers to give blood in order to maintain the necessary supply for the work of the healthcare network. Speaking with The Record following that announcement, Laurent-Paul Ménard of Héma-Quebec praised the Premier’s actions, saying that the situation might well have become dire if such an appeal had not been made. “We are making sure that we will be able to sustain our mission and supply all the blood components needed to the healthcare system in the province,” Ménard said, explaining that that although some new safety precautions need to be taken, public blood collections are still able to take place.
One of the big shifts, according to Ménard is location. “We have many blood drives that are held on school campuses,” he said. “So we have to deal with that kind of situation.”
The Héma-Quebec representative said that new locations have been established for all of the donor clinics in the coming week, with work currently underway to do the same for those scheduled for next week or the week after. As a result of the effort to find new venues for donations, he said Quebecers should not be surprised to see clinics pop up in places like hotels.
Location, however, is only one part of the equation.
“The other part is that we have put up some extra measures on our blood clinic sites to help manage the situation,” Ménard said, explaining that additional sanitation and screening methods have been set up in clinic environments.
“We’ve added an extra procedure,” he said, explaining that although it was already standard practice to take a prospective donor’s temperature and ask about their travels out of the country, donor are now also asked about whether they have any symptoms of the coronavirus or whether they have had any contact with people who do.
Although some social media posts circulating have been pointing to blood donation as an alternative way to be screened for COVID-19, Ménard strongly underlined the fact that there is no testing of donated blood for the disease, because there is no evidence that respiratory illnesses of any kind are transmitted through blood transfusion. The risk management strategies in this case, he said, are not so much about protecting the blood or the blood components, as they are about protecting the volunteers and donors.
The Eastern Townships just recently hosted several blood donor clinics, but Ménard said that locals can expect to see Héma-Quebec back in the area soon. For more information visit or call 1-888-666-4362

Published in the Wednesday, March 18 edition of The Record.

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