One in ten Canadian patients admitted to hospital receives blood products and, in most cases, from more than one donor. That’s one reason why the Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS) entered into a partnership with the Canadian Blood Services 39 years ago.
The CFMS represents over 8400 medical students across Canada who are committed to helping others in every way possible. The CFMS is a Canadian Blood Services Partners for Life organization and pledges an annual goal for blood donations because the need is ongoing. Less than 4% of eligible Canadians give blood, yet half of Canadians have either needed blood or know someone who has. In 2015 we collected 1326 units of blood, surpassing our goal of 1225 units. Therefore, our 2016 goal is to reach 1350 units.
Annual Phlebotomy Bowl
To encourage blood donations and to raise awareness, the CFMS runs a friendly 6-month-long (September through February) competition between medical schools to track which school accumulates the most donations and first-time blood donors. This competition, appropriately named the Phlebotomy Bowl, pits medical schools against one another. Students register as donors through their school’s Partners for Life number, and donations are tracked by Canadian Blood Services at local blood clinics. Results are then converted from absolute numbers into a per capita rate, and the winning schools receive engraved plaques from Canadian Blood Services at the end of the competition.
Our 2015–16 Phlebotomy Bowl was a great success, resulting in 754 lifesaving donations and 98 new blood donors. McMaster University placed first in the Most Donations Per Capita category, followed by Queen’s University and the University of Saskatchewan. McMaster University took first again in Most New Donors, followed by the University of Ottawa and Queen’s University. The next Phlebotomy Bowl will start in September 2016. That being said, don’t wait to donate. The need is constant.
The CFMS sincerely thanks the junior and senior blood champions at each medical school across Canada for their volunteered time and dedication to this important cause. Blood champions are medical students who work hand in hand with their local territory managers to plan blood drives at their schools year round. They go above and beyond in encouraging their peers to donate blood, while helping at blood-typing events (called What’s Your Type?) and stem-cell cheek swabbing events held on campus.
CFMS is also looking into actively participating in stem-cell registration events. The national stem-cell network matches donors to patients who need stem-cell transplants. Stem cells are used to treat more than 80 blood-related diseases and disorders, and less than 25% of patients who need transplants will find a match in their family. If you are between 17 and 35 years old, you can contribute to the Give Life campaign by donating stem cells. Please register today at www.blood.ca/stem-cells.
To find out how you can help your medical school win the coveted Phlebotomy Bowl while Giving Life, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
—Salima Abdulla, BSc
CFMS National Blood Drive Officer
UBC Medicine, Class of 2017
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