Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of Bill S-214, which if passed would recognize national blood donor week. Every year the week of June 14 would be designated as national blood donor week. This campaign would go a long way to ensure that safe blood will always be available to every patient who needs transfusion as part of his or her treatment.
It is fitting that this issue is before the House today, as Canada has been selected as the host country for World Blood Donor Day on June 14 by the World Health Organization, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the International Society of Blood Transfusion, and the International Federation of Blood Donor Organizations.
Giving blood really is a priceless gift. Every year, Canadian blood donors save thousands of lives. This year's theme “Because of You” grants the 17 million Canadians who have been touched by the need for blood a special chance to say thanks to donors across Canada.
On average, every minute of every day in Canada someone needs blood or blood products. Hundreds of thousands of people every year receive blood components or products following accidents, during surgery or for cancer treatments, burn therapy, hemophilia and other blood related diseases. The maintenance of the collective blood supply depends entirely on the generosity of people who care about sharing the priceless gift of good health.
I would like to share some facts about the gift of blood donation. Over half of Canadians at some point in their lives will require blood or blood products for themselves or a family member. To meet our nation's requirements, one million units of blood must be collected from about 600,000 Canadians.
Canada has the safest blood supply system in the world. One of the major reasons for this fact is that 100% of the blood is donor supplied.
I remember as a family doctor being awoken very early one morning by a patient who had been travelling in another country. She called me and was worried because she was told that she needed a blood transfusion. At that time, that country's blood supply was very much in question and in the news. I remember saying to the patient, because of where she was, that at all costs, it was just so risky for her to accept a blood transfusion in that country at that time. I think I even asked her if she could lift her head off the pillow and if the answer was yes, I told her, then she did not need the blood transfusion, but she should rest in bed, drink plenty of fluids and take her iron pills. It was so risky for her to accept a blood transfusion in that country at that time.
Blood donations in Canada are gathered here by volunteers and from volunteers at 45 permanent collection sites. There are also more than 17,000 special mobile clinics held across Canada. These are operated by almost 6,000 employees and in excess of 40,000 volunteers. On an annual basis, nearly 1.1 million units of blood are donated from over half a million Canadians.
I would like to add that blood donor clinics are regularly held here on the Hill, including next Thursday in Room 200, West Block. I encourage members and all House of Commons staff to donate.
As a Canadian, I am proud to report that our national blood supply system is admired by other countries as a model to emulate. Health Canada’s membership in the newly formed WHO Blood Regulators Network will provide Canada the opportunity to share its expertise in this area worldwide.
As an MP from Toronto and Ontario, I am proud to say that almost 50% of blood collections are obtained from Ontario blood donors.
Canadian Blood Services ships blood products to nearly 750 hospitals across Canada. However, less than 4% of eligible Canadians donate blood every year.
This bill aims to inspire even more Canadians to step forward and participate in this experience, which helps literally thousands each year with the gift of life. No one likes needles and it really is an invasive procedure, but we need at least a week a year to celebrate those who do roll up their sleeves, and we will help make their example contagious.
Today I particularly want to sing the praises of a former patient of mine, Richard Lewis, who passed away last week. It was during his blood donation that his leukemia was discovered. As a regular donor of platelets, he reported often to the Canadian Blood Services to give his donation. It was in that manner that his leukemia was discovered. He fought a brave battle over the last eight months.
This week, I know that all in the House will send his family, Jan Silverman and the children, their best wishes. We honour Richard Lewis today for that loss early in life, and also, it is due to blood donation's preventive nature that so many lives are saved because of people like Richard.
I encourage all my colleagues to support this important piece of legislation, Bill S-214.