Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Shrinking Demand for Blood Products Behind Closure of Blood Donor Clinics

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Shrinking Demand for Blood Products Behind Closure of Blood Donor Clinics

Article excerpt

Medical advances behind clinic closures


The non-profit agency that operates Canada's blood donor clinics is shutting down four permanent sites and eliminating 16 mobile clinics across the country, saying the cutbacks are needed because Canadian Blood Services is collecting too much blood.

Ian Mumford, the agency's chief supply chain officer, says advances in medicine have prompted Canada's hospitals to reduce their demand for blood products.

The agency collected 870,000 units of blood last year, but it needs only 830,000 units this year, a 4.5 per cent drop.

Four permanent clinics -- in Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador -- will be closed as of June 1. The 16 mobile clinics will be sidelined by June 30.

"We have more than enough capacity to collect the amount of blood that we need to meet the needs of hospitals," Mumford said in an interview from Ottawa. "However, it is expensive for us to operate more clinics than we actually need to have."

Dr. Antonio Giulivi, head of hematology and transfusion medicine at The Ottawa Hospital, says less invasive surgical methods have reduced the need for blood transfusions.

As an example, he cites robotic surgery techniques used on some prostate cancer patients. The surgery once required up to three units blood, but now surgeons can get by with only one unit.

"It's a big change," Giulivi says. "This is a trend worldwide."

As well, doctors are now less likely to ask for a transfusion if a patient's hemoglobin count is low unless they are displaying obvious symptoms.

Giulivi says improved pre-surgery management has made it easier for doctors to increase red-blood-cell counts without the use of transfusions, and better drugs have been introduced to prevent blood loss during surgery.

Some hospitals have made big strides in improving their blood supply management. …

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