Canadian Blood Services says there is an immediate need for blood donors over the holiday season, with thousands of donation appointments open across the country including in Ontario.
Approximately 5,600 appointments in Ontario need to be booked by Jan. 15, a spokesperson for the organization said in an email to CBC News.
"The holiday period is a challenging time to collect blood," said Rick Prinzen, Canadian Blood Services chief supply chain officer and vice-president of donor relations, said in a news release.
"Donors are especially needed right now to book and keep blood donation appointments heading into the New Year."
The non-profit says statutory holidays in December reduced the number of days blood could be collected, and it's now calling on existing and new donors to schedule an appointment to help make up for the lost days.
In particular there is a need for platelets to treat patients with serious blood disorders and to provide cancer treatments, it says.
As an essential service, the organization will remain open during any lockdown measures and some donor centres will even remain open on New Year's Day for appointments.
While rising COVID-19 numbers have changed the holiday plans of many Canadians, the need for blood donations remains the same, it says.
"There is a lot of uncertainty during a pandemic, but there are always patients in need of blood and blood products," Prinzen said.
While all blood types are needed, there is a specific need for O-negative donors, the organization says.