Blood donor clinic here nixed

Duane Hicks

There won’t be any more blood donor clinics here in the foreseeable future.
Due to a decrease in the demand for blood, Fort Frances is among 16 communities where Canadian Blood Services (CBS) has discontinued its mobile blood donor clinics.
CBS also is closing three permanent clinics and ending the bloodmobile program.
CBS announced Thursday it is reducing its national blood collection goal by about 40,000 units to align with its forecast demand for blood products, Pamela Mullins, director of donor relations, told the Times.
This decline is driven by more efficient approaches to blood use in hospitals stemming from medical advances.
“We have noticed a decline in trending over the years,” Mullins explained.
“Last year to this year, there was a decline of four percent and so we make adjustments accordingly.
“As part of the health-care system, we have to be the best stewards of the funding that we do receive from the provinces and the territories,” Mullins stressed.
“And we do have to take a look at ensuring that where we do run our clinics, that it makes the most sense from a logistical perspective, understanding absolutely that we have incredible donors across this country, like we have up north in Fort Frances,” she noted.
Last year, CBS collected 448 units during the two-day blood donor clinic held here Oct. 27-28.
“Every unit is a miraculous gift to saving somebody’s life so we’re very, very thankful for that,” said Mullins.
CBS’ decision to close clinics was based on several factors, including the overall volume of units collected, labour and transportation costs, and the distance to the nearest production site, which in Fort Frances’ case is Winnipeg.
It was a bit of challenge—because of where the nearest production site is located—to ensure CBS was getting product “back there efficiently and on time,” noted Mullins.
But she stressed that while CBS is not collecting blood out of Fort Frances, this does not impact any Northwestern Ontario patients in need of it.
“If you are in need of blood, you will be getting the blood you need,” she pledged.
Mullins said CBS reviews its demand for blood on a regular basis, and will make adjustments accordingly if it sees demand rise.
While Mullins admitted it’s not possible to say if a mobile blood donor clinic would return to Fort Frances sometime in the future, “we will always take a look at all of our viable options and scenarios, and make the right decisions for the population of our country.”
Local resident Bill Gushulak, who has donated blood 40-plus times, said he’s glad to see the overall demand for blood is down but will miss giving the “gift of life.”
“If it’s not needed, that’s good news,” he remarked.
“The other side of that is I would happy to be on standby if they needed it . . . I would hope that sometime in the future, if it’s needed, they would reinstate it.
“The nice thing about having gone on a regular basis is it was a good double-check for your own health,” Gushulak added.
“They would only take it [blood] from you if your vitals were good,” he chuckled.
“If they said, ‘Man, oh man. What’s with his blood pressure,’ then you’d say, ‘Gee, I should probably get that checked.’
“At least that way, a couple times of year, somebody would check you over and say, ‘Everything is tickety-boo and we’re happy to take your blood because you’re healthy and in good shape.’”
Gushulak said if CBS ever does resume mobile blood donor clinics here, he hopes it will be able to get back the Red Cross and other volunteers who have worked at it for years.
In addition to Fort Frances, CBS won’t be holding mobile clinics in Deep River, Ont., Lucan (London), Cayuga (Hamilton), Minden (Toronto), Swan Lake, Man. Assiniboia, Esterhazy, Moosomin, Southey, Kipling, Lumsden, Meadow Lake, Rocanville, and White City, Sask., or Three Hills, Alta.
As of June 1, CBS is shutting down permanent clinics in Corner Brook, Nfld., Sydney, N.S., and Prince George, B.C.
Mullins urged regular donors to keep advocating for donating blood, especially on social media.
She also encouraged them to keep donating blood if they happen to be in a place where there are mobile blood donor clinics, such as Kenora, and permanent locations, such as Winnipeg.
To find out where and when you can donate blood, visit or download the GiveBlood app for your Android or Apple device.
Mullins also encouraged donors to register for CBS’ “OneMatch” program to be a stem cell donor, noting that 75 percent of stem cell matches are from people the patient is not related to.
Go to for more information.