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Canadian Blood Services keeps supply flowing as St. John's state of emergency continues

The Canadian Blood Services building on Wicklow Street in St. John’s on Tuesday afternoon. Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
The Canadian Blood Services building on Wicklow Street in St. John’s on Tuesday afternoon. - Joe Gibbons/The Telegram

Organization turns to national inventory to help city hospitals

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

It's been almost a week since blood donations were last accepted at the Canadian Blood Services clinic on Wicklow Street in St. John's, but the national organization has a contingency plan in action to make sure patients at local hospitals get the blood they need.

As a result of the state of emergency in effect for the city of St. John's since last Friday's blizzard, the clinic has remained closed to the public. The state of emergency in St. John's also affected its mobile clinic team, forcing the cancellation of a clinic scheduled to happen this week in Grand Falls-Windsor. The team used for mobile clinics is based in St. John's.

Peter MacDonald, director of donor relations for Canadian Blood Services in Atlantic Canada, told The Telegram Tuesday it has employed a number of temporary measures to make sure the blood supply for the northeast Avalon is not affected.

"At this point in time, there hasn't been any impact to hospitals," he said. "Although we haven't been able to collect any blood from donors, we are able to rely on a national inventory and bring blood and blood products from elsewhere into Newfoundland."

The Wicklow Street location has handled orders and deliveries this week, serving hospitals as far away as Burin thanks to special clearance the organization has received to get couriers on the road to transport blood and blood products. Product from the Canadian Blood Services site in Dartmouth, N.S., has also made its way to the island via airports in Gander and Deer Lake.

"We are continuing to supply Newfoundland hospitals during the state of emergency," MacDonald said.

While the organization can keep this going for more days if necessary, MacDonald cautioned it's far from a "business as usual" scenario. Once the state of emergency is lifted and it's safe for people to travel around the city as they normally would, Canadian Blood Services will need to get people in the door at Wicklow Street to start replenishing its inventory at a local level, he said.

"What we collect from our donors in Newfoundland is perishable," he said. "From each donation we collect three products. Plasma we can freeze — it can last for up to one year. Red cells last for 42 days. But platelets only last for seven days. So from the perishability and organic nature of our inventory, it's very important. ... All the pieces can be supplied from elsewhere, but certainly platelets has been very important over these last seven days, which has a short shelf life."

MacDonald is hopeful the Wicklow Street clinic will reopen before the end of the week. He would meanwhile encourage donors to sign up for an appointment next week online at

Twitter: @CBNAndrew

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