Calgary versus Edmonton, the blood feud continues

This month, Calgary and Edmonton are competing to see who can donate the most blood in the ninth annual Sirens for Life Blood donor challenge. The challenge occurs across Canada to raise public awareness on the importance of donating blood.

Last year, Edmonton won the Alberta challenge by a margin of 2.5 per cent. Now Calgary strives to win back the title. Participants include Calgary Police Service, Fire Department, the City of Calgary’s Public Safety Communications, Emergency Medical Services and Alberta Health Services.

Sirens for Life Blood donor challenge spokesperson Conor Tapp said since the challenge started it has resulted in a higher donor turnout each year.

“A great mix donate blood — the old and young, the employed and students,” said Tapp. “Though our aim right now is to encourage younger people aged 17 to 24 to donate and increase the growth of blood donations.”

Fourth-year drama student Carly McKee donates blood twice year. She believes it is an easy way to help the community and that the challenge does encourage blood donors.

“It is never a painful experience and requires minimal time,” said McKee. “I get to help out and save lives while doing it. I noticed after I started donating blood I felt greedy for periods of time when I was not donating because of how little time it takes. You begin to realize the impact one donation can make from such little effort.”

“It takes 45 minutes tops and you get cupcakes while you save lives. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

Tapp believes the challenge encourages the public to donate blood because it puts a spotlight on the need for blood — especially with the involvement of Calgary emergency services.

Over 400,000 Canadians donated blood last year. This year, Canadian Blood Services aims to collect about 6,900 units of blood in Calgary to help meet hospital demands.

“One donation saves three lives,” said Tapp. “The need for blood grows everyday.”

Calgarians can help the city win the challenge this January by calling 1-888-2-DONATE or visiting blood.ca to schedule an appointment.

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