Canadian Blood Services Issues Rallying Cry to Canadians

Bold New Campaign and Blood Signal Launched to Grow and Diversify Canada’s Blood Donors

June 13, 2011 (OTTAWA) - It is estimated that about one in two Canadians can give blood. However, this year only one in 60 has and Canadian Blood Services needs this to change. To turn the tide, Canadian Blood Services is encouraging Canadians to “Rally Together to Save Lives” as National Blood Donor Week begins.

This year’s theme for National Blood Donor Week is “Rally Together to Save Lives” and in order to meet Canada’s future blood requirements, Canadian Blood Services needs to inspire more Canadians to join the movement, including more Canadians from ethnic communities.

"Canada’s blood donors are among the most generous in the world but the challenge is that we continue to rely on too few of them," says Tony Steed, Director of Marketing and Recruitment. "We need our donors across Canada to reflect this country’s cultural mosaic. That means we need more people from ethnic communities to become regular blood donors to help those in their community."

Approximately 20 per cent of the Canadian population identifies themselves as a visible minority. But less than 7 per cent of blood donors identify themselves as visible minorities. This reflects a critical gap between the Canadian population and Canadian Blood Services’ donor base, putting a strain on the ability of Canada’s blood system to meet the needs of patients in the future.

"Engaging Canada's diverse ethnic communities in blood donation is more than just about inclusiveness; it's about supply and demand," says Steed. "The ratio of Caucasians to ethnically diverse Canadians is shrinking, so to grow our donor base we have to address the diversity gap. And in some rare instances, patients require matching beyond basic blood groups which they are most likely to find in a donor from the same ethnic background. As Canada’s population becomes more diverse, so too will the needs of its hospital patients."

Earlier this spring, Canadian Blood Services launched a bold new marketing and recruitment campaign called "Rally Together to Save Lives". The campaign is focused on motivating current and potential blood donors to think and act collectively, and asks Canadians to rally their community, family and friends to donate blood. The campaign aims to grow the donor base to 500,000 active blood donors and to recruit 100,000 new blood donors each year across Canada by 2015, with an additional focus on Chinese, South Asian, and Filipino communities in Toronto and Vancouver.

"Canadian Blood Services is reaching out to three of Canada’s largest and growing ethnic communities in Toronto and Vancouver – Chinese, South Asian, and Filipino – to help us close the critical gap in our donor base and help us towards our goal of increasing the number of blood donors in Canada," says Steed. "Recruiting more ethnic donors will keep Canada’s blood supply strong and sustainable to better meet the needs of hospital patients."

As part of the new campaign, Canadian Blood Services has also created the "Blood Signal" that is a visual and aural icon designed to connect Canadians socially and emotionally to the idea of giving blood. The "Blood Signal" will be used during increased times of need throughout the year as a reminder that the need for blood is great and serves as a rallying cry for communities to come together to save lives. The campaign also includes an interactive Facebook tool that illustrates how many lives can be saved when communities rally together to help hospital patients in need.

For more information or to book an appointment to donate blood, please call 1 888 2 DONATE (1 888 236 6283) today.

About National Blood Donor Week – June 13th – June 19th, 2011

In 2008 a bill was passed by the federal government in Ottawa recognizing National Blood Donor Week as an opportunity to celebrate and thank the donors and volunteers of the blood system in Canada who ensure the health of their fellow citizens. The week also builds awareness of the importance of blood, plasma, platelet and bone and stem cell donations, and encourages Canadians to donate or become a volunteer – especially during the challenging summer months. This year, National Blood Donor Week runs from June 13th to June 19th, 2011 with the theme of "Rally Together to Save Lives". World Blood Donor Day falls within National Blood Donor Week on June 14th – the birth date of Karl Landsteiner, a pioneer of transfusion medicine. The global theme for WBDW 2011 is "More blood. More life" with an underlying theme of "paint the world red".

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