Canada's newest blood plasma centre opens in Sudbury

·3 min read

Canada's newest blood plasma donor centre has opened in Sudbury.

Canadian Blood Services (CBS), which is also Canada's blood collection agency, has opened the new facility at 900 Lasalle Boulevard in the Lasalle Court Mall. It is the first of three new centres being created in Canada to collect plasma only.

For decades, Sudbury was a key blood donor collection centre, acting as a hub for mobile blood donor clinics across Northeastern Ontario. That came to an end earlier this year when CBS decided that whole blood would be collected in larger Canadian cities. The Sudbury blood donor centre was closed down and re-created as a plasma only donor centre.

While whole blood is still important, CBS says modern medical techniques have reduced the demand. The need for blood plasma, a derivative of whole blood, is in great demand. CBS explained plasma is a liquid blood component that carries nutrients to all parts of the body and carries waste products out of the body, acting like a cell transportation system. It is also rich in vital proteins used to treat patients undergoing extensive surgery or trauma, and patients with bleeding disorders.

Jean-Paul Bédard, vice president of plasma operations, said CBS is counting on Sudbury residents to continue their support.

"We've chosen Sudbury for many reasons," said Bédard. “There's a large community that has been supporting us with blood donations over the years, and we're confident that donors will transition to plasma donations and come to our centre in big numbers.

"Also, there is this sense of community in Sudbury that we really rely on and up until now we've been very successful in transitioning our blood donors to become plasma donors.”

Bédard said it is important to know that the plasma collected in Sudbury will be transformed into life-saving medicines for all Canadians. Many are patients who are living with rare, life-threatening, chronic and genetic conditions, he added.

As it stands right now, not enough plasma is being collected to meet the demands of all Canadians, said Bédard. He said the new facility in Sudbury is an important step in the plans to increase plasma collection in Canada.

“This is an exciting milestone for us,” said Bédard. “Canadian Blood Services is working to increase Canada’s plasma supply through our voluntary, unpaid donor system to ensure we can continue to meet patients’ growing needs for medications that are made from plasma.”

CBS said the Sudbury donor centre is the first of three new Canadian Blood Services dedicated plasma donor centres that are opening across Canada.

Donating plasma is not too different from a blood donation. Once an appointment is made, all donors are screened to ensure they are suitable candidates for donating.

When making the donation, the donor has a needle inserted into their vein in the normal way, similar to a blood donation. Instead of the tube connecting to a bag, it is connected to a machine. The blood goes through a centrifuge that separates the plasma from the rest of the blood components. The rest of the blood is then returned to the donor’s body. The process takes about 90 minutes.

For more information and to book an appointment to give plasma at the new Sudbury plasma centre, donors can visit the website blood.ca. Appointments can also be booked by downloading the GiveBlood app or by calling 1-888-2-DONATE. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian Blood Services said it has put a number of new measures in place to help support the wellbeing of donors and staff.

Len Gillis is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter at Sudbury.com, covering health care in Northern Ontario. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the federal government.

Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com