As it struggles to emerge from coronavirus lockdown, the province faces a new challenge. We're running low on blood donations in Quebec. That's because when most residents were under stay-at-home orders in March, the number of daily blood donations dropped by about 25 percent, prompting Premier François Legault to ask Quebecers to give more.
"Several people are writing to me to ask what they can do. Well, I tell them, 'Go out and give blood,'" he said during one of his daily COVID-19 updates.
After the appeal, the blood supply rebounded dramatically, but now Héma-Québec is saying it needs an additional 100 donations per day, on top of the 1,000 donations it normally requires.
The organization is making the appeal in an effort to keep the province’s blood supply at an acceptable level, "As activities gradually resume in Quebec and the demand for blood products in the province's hospitals increases," said Héma-Québec in a statement.
The organization is taking extra precautions to ensure safety during the pandemic. All potential donors must book an appointment by calling 1 (800) 343-7264 (SANG) or by sending an email to email@example.com.
In addition, its workers are putting up plastic sheeting at collection sites, disinfecting all surfaces and reorganizing blood drive sites to ensure everyone stays two-metres apart.
A technician will take your temperature and give you a surgical mask for the time spent at the collection site when physical distancing measures cannot be maintained.
A list of upcoming blood drives in the province has been posted to Héma-Québec's website.
However, giving blood is not as simple as rolling up your sleeve and offering a vein.
There are restrictions.
Perhaps most notably is the one that bans gay men from giving blood, still, to this day, in 2020.
Since 1992, Health Canada has barred gay men from donating after thousands of people were infected with HIV and hepatitis C through tainted blood products.
The outright ban has been replaced with a policy that allows gay men to donate, provided they abstain from sex for three months.
One local man is sharing his story after he tried to donate plasma but was rejected because of the ban.
In a widely-circulated Instagram post, Montrealer Adam Capriolo said he signed up to participate in a study by Héma-Québec after recovering from COVID-19 but was "immediately disqualified in [the] interview when it came up that [he had] had 'homosexual encounters.'"
He has since started a petition to end the policy.