Donation

Dal students want more blood donation options

The low turnout for Dal’s Life Bus asks a bigger question about how donating blood could be made a lot easier for Haligonians without a car

life_bus
The Life Bus outside of Dalhousie’s Student Union Building on Wednesday.   Maia Kowalski

A bus designed to give Dalhousie students easier access to a blood clinic didn’t run last week because of the low student turnout.

The Life Bus was organized in conjunction with Canadian Blood Services to make it more accessible for students to donate blood in the city.

The bus makes a round trip to the Bayer’s Road clinic, but “some people may be deterred by the hour and a half [time] commitment,” said Peter Baumeister, the president of the Dal Blood Society, in an email.

Andrew Moser, a student at the University of King’s College, has donated before. He doesn’t think the Bayer’s Road location is close enough for the average student.

“If you have a car, it’s very accessible and it’s not a long drive, but most students don’t have access to a car,” he said.

The only other student-friendly options for donating blood happen occasionally. Canadian Blood Services operates mobile clinics that come to campus twice a school year and there are a handful of appointment-only Blood Drives set up by Dalhousie’s Blood Society.

There is currently no permanent blood clinic in downtown Halifax. Mobile clinics are also held on a monthly basis at the QEII Health Sciences Centre and the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel.

Peter MacDonald, Director of Donor Relations for Atlantic Canada, said people who live in the city can always access these locations to donate.

He also said there is no need to create a permanent downtown clinic at this time. The reason behind the mobile clinics and Life Bus model is because it is more cost-efficient for the organization.

In April, Canadian Blood Services announced its switch to “improve the efficiency and consistency of collections.” It closed multiple mobile blood clinics in 16 communities, three permanent clinics across the country and ended its Bloodmobile program.

This is because the organization is trying to decrease its carbon footprint and host blood clinics that are less frequent but more valuable.

“We collect what’s needed, not as much [blood] as we can,” said MacDonald.

Even mobile clinics are expensive to run. But they are still a better alternative, both financially and demand-wise.

Moser has donated from time to time for the past three years, and he said most of these times were at the mobile clinics at Dal.

“I would like to donate regularly,” he said. “If there are more pop-up clinics I would go donate blood more often.”

Baumeister shares the same opinion and has tried to push for this option.

“I have frequently requested to Canadian Blood Services to book more than two blood clinics per academic year,” he stated. “Unfortunately, so far, we have been unsuccessful in attaining additional clinics.”

Baumeister said that while it would be nice to see a permanent downtown clinic, he still supports the Life Bus and mobile clinics available on campus as alternatives.

He believes the Life Bus could do well if it was more widely advertised to students, and he is working to change that.

The Life Bus still plans on running this Friday, Oct. 30 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.