April 7th is World Health Day, dated on the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1948 and celebrated annually! Each year the WHO uses World Health Day to draw attention to a specific health topic of concern to people all over the world. The theme for 2024 is ‘My health, my right’, chosen to champion the right of people across the world having access to quality health services, education, and information, as well as safe drinking water, clean air, good nutrition, quality housing, decent working and environmental conditions, and freedom from discrimination.[1]

In Canada, the difference in the number of people who need blood donations or know someone who needs them is much greater than the number of people who actually donate. Canadian Blood Services (CBS) reports that 52% of people have indicated that they have, or their family member has, needed blood or blood products at some point in their life. In contrast, CBS says their data indicates that about 1 in 2 people are eligible to donate blood and plasma, but most have not donated.[2]

As a social service agency, Alpha House knows acutely the impact of a lack of access to healthcare, a lack of adequate supports for physical (and mental) health, and the long-term detriments when health is not treated as a right. There are, of course, many conversations about healthcare in Alberta these days. Something Alpha House did recently to take more ownership in supporting health measures was setting up a blood donation team as an agency! We owe special thanks for the idea to one of our staff members who had a personal connection to advocating for this setup.

Alpha House is now what is called a “Partner for Life” with CBS and we tested out our first blood drive last month. Together, a group of staff members got on the (aptly named) ‘Lifebus’ and headed off to our appointments.

When we arrived at Canadian Blood Services, we went upstairs to check in.

  • If it’s your first time donating, then you’ll need your ID and to fill out a quick questionnaire that’ll get you set up with a profile
  • You’ll also get a blood donor card in the mail a few weeks after your first donation
  • After all the paperwork is done, you’ll be in the waiting area for a couple of minutes with the opportunity to enjoy some free snacks and beverages before your donation

The blood donation itself can take up to 15 minutes, after which you can help yourself to more snacks and drinks to help restore your blood volume levels faster! The process for our staff was easy, quick, and meaningful AND (no surprises!) the Canadian Blood Services staff were very kind, patient, and made sure everyone was comfortable before, during, and after the donation.

The best thing about Alpha House becoming a ‘Partner for Life’ is we have another cool way for community members to join our work and build community with us!  Anyone can join us and become a “Champion for Life.”

Together we can unite to raise awareness, donate blood or plasma, or support the stem cell or organ donation registries. As part of Alpha House’s Team, you can help have a direct impact on patients in Canada and the families who love them. If you join our team and become a “Champion for Life,” your donations contribute to Alpha House’s overall count!

We will be continuing to organize team events for donating blood for our staff because it’s important to our staff, but also because of how closely it aligns with our agency’s values and the population that we serve; many of our clients see their health deteriorate because of being on the street, lacking access to basic hygiene and adequate food supply, and facing other hardships. We will also continue spreading the word through our social media channels and encourage you to join our team.

Alpha House is a strong advocate for this year’s World Health Day theme: ‘My health, my right’ – recognizing healthcare is a RIGHT; a blood donation is one tiny part of healthcare that can make an enormous difference for a client of ours or anyone who finds themselves in such a situation of need and we believe in being a part of individuals having access to blood donations (and other healthcare) when they’re needed most.

If you want to join Alpha House’s blood donation team as a Champion for Life, check out the instructions here or via the graphic on top of the page!

  1. Log in or create an account on blood.ca or the GiveBlood App
  2. Click on the “Partners” tab
  3. Click “Join an existing team”
  4. Search “Alpha House” or our team number “CALG0117318
  5. Select “Yes” and then click “Join”
  6. Welcome to the team! Click “Book” to get started and make an appointment

Remember to get a good night’s sleep and drink plenty of water before your donation!

[1]https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day; https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/2024

[2] https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/canadian-blood-services-needs-thousands-more-canadians-to-roll-up-their-sleeves-1.6879312