Loss of blood donor clinics an ill-considered move

The so-called “priceless” gift of blood through donations at blood donor clinics does appear to have a price attached to it, or at least a cost, as the Canadian Blood Services organization is reorganizing to lower costs with the prediction that there will be far less “priceless” blood donated as a result of these planned changes. Sometimes large organizations just can’t stand success.

A few years ago, Manitoulin’s participation in blood donation clinics was declining and the Canadian Blood Services office in Sudbury, which conducts the clinic and collects the product, was growing concerned.

The Doric Masonic Lodge in Little Current stepped up their efforts, (as Masons across the land have done since they adopted blood donations as a central cause during the First World War.)

The members of Doric Lodge organized publicity, The Expositor did a series of articles and when the next Manitoulin blood donor clinic came around, the Canadian Blood Services officials were thrilled with the result.

This was several years ago but the Masons have continued in their support of the scheduled blood donor clinics on Manitoulin Island, which have continued to provide representative donations of this “stuff of life” for the common good.

The blood-donating experience on Manitoulin has also been enhanced as during the past couple of years, Island musicians have been recruited to provide entertainment at blood donor clinics for those waiting to donate, for people going through the donation process and for the required post-donation period when donors are asked to sit for a few minutes prior to leaving. The Expositor has continued to promote these clinics when they take place, recognizing their importance.

It’s a fine atmosphere and Island people keep on coming, heeding the clever slogan, “it’s in you to give.”

But Canadian Blood Services, apparently directed from a senior office in southern Ontario, has given notice that the Manitoulin blood donor clinics are to be discontinued.

They presumably expect that Island blood donors will continue to donate and will do so by attending clinics in Espanola or Sudbury.

Apparently this priceless commodity, blood and its products, does have a price after all: the cost of Canadian Blood Services travelling the additional 50 kilometres from Espanola to Little Current (where the clinics are held at the Recreation Centre where there is no rental fee charged for these events) and of staffing a clinic.

How does this imputed “cost” compare to 50 or 60 blood donors being asked to each spend an additional hour and a half on the road, at the dinner hour, and to collectively spend hundreds of dollars on the fuel they’ll burn going to and returning from Espanola?

This is clearly an ill-considered decision. It is an insult to the Island service group, the Masons, who have worked so hard to maintain a high profile for the blood donor clinics and it is predictable that the number of Manitoulin Island blood donors will drop dramatically.

Perhaps, in the eyes of the southern Ontario Canadian Blood Services bean counters, this makes some sense (less blood donated but less cost to CBS) but for those people who need transfusions or other blood products when the blood bank is running low, this will very clearly be seen as false economy.

Keeping the blood donor clinics on Manitoulin Island and other smaller communities in the North must be reconsidered and they must be reinstated.

The next (and, according to Canadian Blood Services, the final) Manitoulin Island blood donor clinic is scheduled for next Monday, March 23 at the recreation centre on Highway 6 in Little Current and its hours are 4 pm to 7 pm.

It would be a fine thing if Manitoulin blood donors attended this event in large numbers, and that they also use this opportunity to register their protests about the clinics’ closure.