Canadian Blood Services - What to do?



March 16, 2007

The closest I could make this tied to the work of OpenConcept was by pointing out that PDF's, although useful, are not a replacement for good old html. Having the donor form online is good, but having it in a text form would be easier for people to review in the way that is easiest for them. Having it in this way would also help to have the information translated and distributed in a great many languages so that people who have French or English as a second language would be more comfortable confidently giving blood.

My main concern is that the form had assumptions about what you should know about sexual partners to responsibly give blood, but never summarizes a list of questions for donors. I had some difficulties last year with giving my blood to the Canadian Blood Services, and out of frustration didn't give blood for almost a year. Because I have O negative blood, I do think it is important for me to contribute when I can, even with the bureaucratic screening process. I do find it amazing that the CBS doesn't ask if you practice safe sex, but does seem to think that you would know if someone ever had yellow jaundice. If the CBS is going to ask questions, then it is important that they educate the population to provide useful feedback in order to do what they can to ensure that the donated blood is safe. This is what the CBS currently expects you to know about people you've had sex with:1) Diseases and Medical Issues. Have you ever been diagnosed with: - hepatitis? - yellow jaundice? - HIV? - AIDS? Are you a hemophiliac or taken a blood clotting factor concentrate for some other reason?2) Lifestyle & Sexual Background [If female and asking a guy] - Have you had sex with another man any time since 1977? [For everyone] - Have you ever: - taken illegal drugs or steroids with a needle? - taken money or drugs for sex? - lived in Africa, or were you born there?3) Discuss your sexual backgrounds to assess levels of risk.

We need to ensure that there is a plentiful blood supply and that it is as clean as possible. Educating people on what they should know is a key part of that. Now what questions they should be asking is another issue.

About The Author

Mike Gifford is the founder of OpenConcept Consulting Inc, which he started in 1999. Since then, he has been particularly active in developing and extending open source content management systems to allow people to get closer to their content. Before starting OpenConcept, Mike had worked for a number of national NGOs including Oxfam Canada and Friends of the Earth.