Blood donation
Each year, UHN provides patients with 40,000 units of life-saving blood thanks to generous donors. (Photo: iStock)

With the onset of the pandemic came many unknowns and uncertainties, including some hesitancies and questions around blood donation. 

To mark National Blood Donor Week and World Blood Donor Day on June 14, UHN News sat down with one of our medical experts to help dispel some of the myths about COVID-19 and donating blood.

Each year, UHN provides patients with 40,000 units of life-saving blood thanks to generous donors.

Dr. Christine Cserti, Associate Medical Director, Blood Transfusion Laboratory, Laboratory Medicine Program, UHN, provides some clarity for potential blood donors.

Q: Can I be vaccinated and donate blood?

A: Once vaccinated with any of the four currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines in Canada, you are still eligible to donate blood. Whether you've had one or two doses of a vaccine, there is no deferral period to donate. The vaccines are categorized as non-live vaccines, meaning they do not contain infectious bacteria or virus or other pathogens that can replicate in the vaccine recipient or cause an infection.

Q: If I've had COVID-19, can I still donate blood?

A: Prior infection of COVID-19 does not make you ineligible to donate, however, donation is not recommended until a full three weeks after the recovery date has passed. As with severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the odds of transmitting the virus by transfusion is so low as to only be theoretical.

Christine Cserti
Dr. Christine Cserti says once vaccinated with any of the four currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines in Canada, you are still eligible to donate blood. (Photo: Courtesy Christine Cserti)

Q: Can I donate blood if I've travelled outside of Canada?

A: Travelers should self-isolate and refrain from blood donation for 14 days after any travel outside of Canada, as stated by public health authorities. 

Q: Is it safe to go to a donation centre during the pandemic?

A: Blood Donor Centres operated by Canadian Blood Services are safe. They must observe the public health and safety rules including mandatory face masks, hand washing, physical distancing and sanitation measures. 

Q: There are already so many blood donors, why is it important to donate?

A: In Canada, one in two individuals are eligible to donate, but only one in 60 does. New donors are critical to meeting Canada's future blood needs. Every year, tens of thousands of donors don't or can't return for a variety of reasons, so we are always looking to "new blood" to keep up with the demand.  This year in Canada, more than 100,000 new blood donors are needed. It's also not just a matter of volume but representation. Ideally, our donor base mirrors the diversity and special matching needs of our recipient population.

Considering donating?

Review the list of eligibility requirements  for more information and take the two-minute eligibility quiz.

If you are determined online to be eligible, you will be able to book your first appointment.

People who are unable to donate blood can give financially, volunteer, and encourage others in their network to become donors. Download the GiveBlood app, call 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283) or book now at blood.ca.


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