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A U of C student discovering their blood type.
Michael Grondin/the Gauntlet

Give and let live

'What's your Type?' clinic raises awareness about donating blood

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Canadian Blood Services tested students’ blood as part of a ‘What’s Your Type?’ clinic in MacEwan Student Centre on September 17. 


The free service gave University of Calgary students a chance to discover their blood type and receive information about donating blood.


Blood is in high demand and Canadian Blood Services will be hosting blood donation sessions at the U of C over the next year.


According to Canadian Blood Services community development coordinator Lisa Castro, these clinics are an important way to inform the public about the need for blood donors — a need that is particularly high right now due to a lack of donors.


“It’s our way of educating the community about the need for blood,” said Castro. “Right now, Canadian Blood Services has gone into blood signal mode, which is a call to action to rally together communities to support the blood system.”


About one in every two Canadians is eligible but only one in 60 Canadians donate blood. Blood donations are used by hospitals for many purposes, including surgery and treating anemia and cancer.


Castro talked about the importance of getting young people to donate blood. She said the donor population is aging and students are future 
donors.


“Students’ involvement for the future of our blood system is really critical. They represent the youth population in Canada, and at this point we want students to integrate blood donation into their regular activities,” said Castro.


Last year, the U of C hosted four blood clinics. Each clinic had a goal of taking 96 units of blood, one unit being equivalent to one donation. Castro said none of the clinics achieved the goal.


“If you think of the thousands of students on campus, you would think that meeting a goal of 96 blood donations is quite doable,” said Castro, adding that many students make appointments but do not commit when the time comes.


“It’s a challenge because if donors decide not to show up and don’t cancel their appointment then we can’t replace that spot,” said Castro. “Patients in the hospitals are counting on those 
donations.”


Castro said misconceptions surrounding the process of blood donation are the main reason why some people do not donate.


“I think people don’t realize how easy it is to give blood — it only takes an hour of your time and you impact the lives of many patients in that one hour,” she said. “It isn’t something that is a top priority for a lot of Canadians and it really should be.”


Fifth-year U of C psychology student Stephanie Sykora said she has never donated blood because it has seemed inconvenient.


“I just have never really been around when there was a clinic,” said Sykora.


Over the next four weeks, 
Canadian Blood Services needs to book 30,000 appointments in order to meet demand. Castro hopes that the ‘What’s Your Type?’ clinic at the U of C will help to accomplish that goal.


All of the blood clinics coming to the university this year will be in the Husky Oil Great Hall in the Rosza Centre. The first clinic will be held September 20 with clinics on October 17 and November 15.

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