Canada to host World Blood Donor Day June 14, 2007

    OTTAWA, March 28 /CNW Telbec/ - Canada has been selected as the host
country for World Blood Donor Day on June 14th, 2007 by the World Health
Organization, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent
Societies, International Society of Blood Transfusion and International
Federation of Blood Donor Organizations. Canadian Blood Services and
Héma-Québec will work in conjunction with Health Canada to thank blood donors
around the world for their selfless gift, and to raise awareness for the
universal need for safe blood and blood products.
    "Being granted this international stage is a huge honour for Canada,"
says Canadian Blood Services Chief Executive Officer Graham Sher. "Our
Canadian donors help save thousands of lives every year. We are also part of a
global family of blood systems, and recognize the impact blood donors have on
the health of citizens all around the world."
    "The safety of the blood supply is of utmost importance to Héma-Québec,"
says Dr. Francine Décary, President and Chief Executive Officer of
Héma-Québec. "But part of our job is also to share our expertise. Blood may
not cross borders, but our knowledge and leadership can."
    The international theme of this year's World Blood Donor Day is "Safe
Blood for Safe Motherhood" to highlight how voluntary blood donors can help
save the lives of thousands of mothers and newborns around the world.
Celebrations will be held in Ottawa to showcase the importance of blood
donation worldwide with speeches of thanks and inspiration, musical tributes,
and recipient stories.
    "Health Canada, the blood operators and the Provincial/Territorial
governments have worked collaboratively to enhance the safety of the blood
supply for Canadians," says the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Health.
"As a result of this collaboration, Canada has a strong national blood system
that is viewed as a model by other countries. 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."
    World Blood Donor Day was officially designated as an annual event by the
World Health Assembly in 2005. It has been hosted previously in the United
Kingdom, and Thailand. About 60 per cent of the global blood supply is donated
in developed countries where less than 20 per cent of the world's population
live-this leaves many countries with acute blood shortages. Less than a
quarter of countries have achieved 100 per cent voluntary blood donation. Many
countries still depend to varying degrees on blood donation by the friends or
family of a patient needing transfusion and, in some countries, some donors
are still paid to give blood.
    "Increasing the number of voluntary blood donors to give blood regularly
is important all around the world," says Dr. Neelam Dhingra, Coordinator,
Blood Transfusion Safety, World Health Organization. "While June 14th is a
special day, World Blood Donor Day is part of a larger international campaign
to ensure safe blood will always be available to every patient who needs
transfusion as part of their treatment."
    In Canada, World Blood Donor Day falls within National Blood Donor Week
which is celebrated by events in towns and cities across the country.
    "On behalf of the Provinces and Territories, we are thrilled Canada has
the opportunity to host World Blood Donor Day," says Nova Scotia Minister of
Health, the Honourable Chris d'Entremont. "The donors, the staff and the
volunteers across this great nation and indeed around the world deserve our
thanks for making a life and death difference.(*)
    On average, every minute of every day in Canada, someone needs blood or
blood products. Hundreds of thousands of people each year receive blood
components or blood products following accidents, during surgery or for cancer
treatments, burn therapy, haemophilia 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.

    About Canadian Blood Services

    Canadian Blood Services is a national, not-for-profit charitable
organization that manages the blood supply in all provinces and territories
outside of Quebec and oversees the country's Unrelated Bone Marrow Donor
Registry. A dedicated team of about 4,500 staff and 17,000 volunteers enable
us to operate 41 permanent collection sites and more than 19,000 donor clinics
annually. Canadian Blood Services is a non-governmental organization, however
the Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Health provide operational
funding, and the federal government, through Health Canada, is responsible for
regulating the blood system.

    About Héma-Québec

    Created in 1998, Héma-Québec's mission is to efficiently provide adequate
quantities of safe, optimal blood components, substitutes, human tissues and
cord blood to meet the needs of all Quebecers; provide and develop expertise
along with specialized and innovative services and products in the fields of
transfusion medicine and human tissue transplantation.
    Héma-Québec is 1,300 employees, some 3,000 days of blood drives and more
than 300,000 blood donors each year, 16,000 volunteer partners and 400,000
blood products delivered each year to Québec hospitals to meet patients'

For further information:

For further information: Danielle Norris, Manager, Proactive Media,
Canadian Blood Services, (Work) (613) 739-6450, (Cell) (613) 620-0466; Michel
Thisdel, Information officer, Héma-Québec, 1-888-666-HEMA (4362), Extension

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