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Be a part of History Be a part of The BIG SAVE - Torontos Largest Blood Donor Clinic

February 26, 2010

Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) is teaming up with Canadian Blood Services to host, ‘The Big Save’, the largest ever blood donor clinic in Toronto. Starting Monday, March 1 at 10 a.m. MLSE will open the doors of Air Canada Centre to blood donors in an all out effort to change a startling statistic that very few Torontonians know about.

Toronto is one of the heaviest users of blood in the country and for the past few years, the city has consistently relied on blood donors from other cities, importing an average of 50,000 units of blood a year to make up the shortfall between local donations and hospital demand.

MLSE and Canadian Blood Services are encouraging Toronto residents to register for the day-long event at Air Canada Centre in an attempt to reach their goal of over 1,000 appointments and 650 units of blood collected at the first ever ‘The Big Save’ blood donor clinic. Monday’s event will be Toronto’s largest blood donor clinic and a huge step towards building sufficient blood donations in the region.

Richard Peddie, President and CEO of MLSE, along with Brian Burke, Leafs President and General Manager and Brian Colangelo, Raptors President and General Manager, announced the blood drive earlier this month while donating blood at a Canadian Blood Services blood donor clinic.

“The numbers say it all, there is a huge need for blood in the city and we are very excited to be playing a role in addressing the issue,” said Richard Peddie, president and CEO of MLSE. “Our goal is a lofty one, but with the support of the best fans in the world, we have every confidence that we will rise up to the challenge.”

Canadian Blood Services currently collects an average of 500 units of blood daily from many smaller clinics in the city, but close to 700 units are needed by patients each day in the region. The strong demand is due in large part to the significant concentration of hospitals in the region. Six of the ‘top twenty’ hospitals, in terms of red blood cells transfused, are located in the Toronto region. Hospitals such as Sunnybrook, SickKids and the University Health Network which includes Toronto General Hospital, Toronto Western Hospital and Princess Margaret Hospital, are major referral centres for cancer treatment, illnesses, surgery and trauma care and this specialized care contributes to the large local need for blood. 73,000 units of red blood cells were transfused in patients undergoing treatment in the top six GTA hospitals alone last year.

“Blood donors in Toronto are very generous, but there are too few of them,” says Sue Blasutti, Director, Donor and Clinic Services, Central Ontario Region, Canadian Blood Services. “One of the reasons we rely on other cities to make up our gap in blood is because our participation is the lowest in the country.”

Nationally 3.5 per cent of the eligible population donates regularly but in Toronto only 1.8 per cent give blood.

“With a GTA population of five million, we know there is room for improvement, so we are especially encouraging anyone who hasn’t donated before to make an appointment to roll up a sleeve at ‘The Big Save’. This is a tremendous opportunity for the entire diverse donor base within Toronto and the GTA area to join together to make a difference in their community.”

‘The Big Save’ blood donor clinic runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m, Monday March 1st on the floor of Air Canada Centre. Personalities from the Toronto Maple Leafs, Raptors, Marlies and the Toronto FC teams will be on hand throughout the day to meet blood donors and raffle prize draws will be made for player-autographed items. Call 1-888-2-DONATE (1-888-236-6283) to book your appointment to give blood at this exciting event. While walk-in donors are welcome, appointments are preferred.