By Perry Lefko

Canadian Blood Services is reaching out to Canadians to donate blood as part of the Thanksgiving weekend.

Lilet Raffinan, territory manager for Mississauga, Brampton, Georgetown, Oakville and Etobicoke, said there is an annual need in Canada for 800,000 units of blood. The slogan is “it’s in you to give.”

“Every day is an ongoing need,” Raffinan said. “One in two Canadians is eligible to give blood, but only one in 60 does. Every 60 seconds someone somewhere in Canada needs blood. It is a constant reminder for Canadians to come and donate blood.

“We’re encouraging all eligible Canadians to make a life-saving donation, especially before and after the Thanksgiving long weekend. Long weekends are an opportunity for us to remind Canadians that every day there is a need for blood. We’re hoping that as part of their Thanksgiving tradition Canadians will give blood. All blood types are needed, but in particular O negative because it is used for trauma, car accidents or gunshot wounds. O neg is used when the (doctors) do not have a chance to check your blood type. It’s a universal donor. ”

There are some eligibility requirements before someone can give blood. The minimum age is 17, and donations cannot be made by people who have body piercings or tattoos for the past six months. There are also certain countries outside of Canada and the U.S. that prohibit giving blood until a minimum of 21 days upon returning home.  All of the information can be found at or by calling 1 888 2 DONATE (1-888-236-6283).

Raffinan said giving blood is a fairly simple procedure that takes about 45 minutes beginning with registering if you are a first-time donor (regular donors are given identification cards). That is followed by answering an online questionnaire, followed by a pin-prick test for iron. After that, donors are seated in a comfortable reclining lounge chair and hooked up to a machine that takes a unit of blood from a vein. There are television monitors for donors to watch and magazines to read. Nurses are constantly monitoring it all.

“You tend to forget what is happening. The next thing you know it’s done and you save lives,” Raffinan said.

After it is over, donors are encouraged to raise their sugar levels with juice and cookies that are provided. From start to finish it takes 45 minutes.

There are permanent Canadian Blood Services sites in Mississauga, Barrie and York Region. If there is not a permanent clinic, there are mobile clinics set up each month.

“All people have to do is check to see where there is a blood donor clinic that is most convenient for them,” Raffinan said.