Canadian Blood Services says they are seeing a shortage of supply of blood donations and donors, and are hoping more first-time donors will sign up to help fill the gap.

Debbi Barfoot says the pandemic has proved challenging for collecting donations. 

"Though the pandemic, our donor base has actually shrunk, so less people are coming in," she says. "And then recently with Omicron it’s affecting us a little bit more and it’s starting to be a bit of a concern."

Barfoot says the new variant has forced staffing shortages and cancelled appointments.

Another major hit to inventory, says Barfoot, was the snowstorm on Jan. 17 that caused appointments to be cancelled across Ontario.

She says it resulted in 1,000 units being lost.

"We’re still trying to make up for those units, based on hospital orders, and what patients need in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle," she explains. "So we’re trying to make up those units, and fill those existing appointments."

In places like Kingston, there are more than 100 appointments that need to be filled for the month of February. 

She says they need the help of new donors to fill the appointments.

"One in two people in Canada are eligible to donate, however, one in 81 actually does," says Barfoot. "Those donors, those dedicated donors that come in every 56 days if you're male or every 84 days if you're a female, they're making up for everybody. So we really need to encourage new blood donors into the system."

For ways to donate, and to find out whether you are eligible, visit the Canadian Blood Services website.