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Urgent push for blood donors as natural disasters impact inventory

The push is on to get Canadians to roll up their sleeves and donate blood and plasma to an inventory hit hard by wildfires and floods across the country.

"In summertime, we struggle to have regular donors coming in because everyone has their summer plans and travelling. So on top of that, with these unusual events across the country, our levels are less than optimal," said Cheryl Russell, the community development manager for the Canadian Blood Services Barrie branch.

In Barrie alone, there are more than 100 appointments the service says need to be filled by the end of the weekend.

Nationally, there is a need for all blood types, particularly O-negative and O-positive, which only have a few days of inventory.

Laura Golanch donated for her 112th time on Tuesday.

"I'm an O-negative donor, which is a universal donor, so I feel that's really important to keep giving. I'm healthy, so as long as I can, I will," she said.

Canadian Blood Services says one donation can save and care for up to three people.

While many don't think to give blood until someone close to them needs it, there are various reasons for doing it.

"I have high iron in my blood system, so I have to get rid of it regardless. So just knowing that I can donate the blood and it will actually get used other than just being dumped out by the hospital, that's why I come out," said occasional donor Jacob King.

Students can even get community service hours for donating.

"It's healthy for you, and if you have a popular blood type, you will save a life for sure," explained Harry Schaly, who has given blood more than 60 times after first donating when he was 25.

Golanch said she continues to donate often because of her family history, adding her mom became a donor after receiving a life-saving blood donation as a child.

"I just think of her. She's gone now, but I think of her going and doing it, and I have reared two blood donors. I've taken them since they were babies, and they came to the clinics with me, and they now go on their own," she said.

Canadian Blood Services says nearly 10,000 donation appointments need to be filled across the country between now and Labour Day.

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