I (Mike Thom) went down to Canadian Blood Services (CBS) this week to donate blood for the first time. It's an amazingly simple process and every donation can save up to three lives!

Check out the video below to see my experience from start to end.

For some reason, whenever I think about blood donation, I think about trauma patients and surgeries. I didn't realize just how many people are in need of blood transfusion, from people with cancer, to people with a variety of illnesses.

The need across Canada is staggering, and that goes the same for right here in Winnipeg, especially around Christmas. The Winnipeg location is at 777 William Avenue, right across the street from HSC, and there is free parking in their lot! If you can't find a spot, CBS will compensate you for street parking.

Give joy this Christmas

It is typically more challenging to collect blood during the last two weeks of December, but that is when donations are especially needed, according to Brett Lawrence. Brett is the Community Development Manager at Canadian Blood Services in Winnipeg.

He says that thousands of people are needed to fill all available appointments in Wininpeg to help save lives this Christmas.

The thing that struck me most about this simple act was that this Christmas I could be helping kids get to have their mom or dad around ... and then it hit me that I could be helping a mom and dad have their child with them still.

I've made the decision to become a regular donor (you can give every 56 days), and I hope you will click here to set up an appointment and give the gift of joy this Christmas. 

Decades-long ban lifted

If you've been told before that you cannot give blood because you lived or travelled in the United Kingdom, Ireland or France for long periods of time in the 1980s and 1990s, I have good news for you: that ban is now lifted!

Nicole Ireland of the Canadian Press writes, "The ban was adopted more than two decades ago by blood agencies in many countries to prevent the transmission of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease — the human form of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or 'mad cow disease.'

"'But almost 30 years of research and surveillance have made it clear that people who previously weren't eligible to donate under the travel criteria can do so safely,' said Dr. Aditi Khandelwal, medical officer for Canadian Blood Services."

You can read more about the lifting of the ban here.