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Updated: Tue, 11 Mar 2014 07:30:14 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Too old to give blood at 71, would-be Halifax donor told



Joe Bellefontaine says he's trying to do the right thing by donating blood, but he's getting the run-around. CBC

Joe Bellefontaine says he's trying to do the right thing by donating blood, but he's getting the run-around. CBC

Canadian Blood Services often runs ads asking people to give the gift of life, but one 71-year-old man who wanted to donate blood in Nova Scotia said he was turned down because of his age.

“I didn't think I had to fight so much to give blood, because they're crying on the radio, ‘Give blood, give blood, give blood,'” Joe Bellefontaine told CBC News.

The Halifax man says he has no blood pressure or heart problems, which is why when he heard the ad saying there was a need for his blood type, he thought he'd be a good candidate to donate.

He called to book an appointment, but said he was told because of his age he’d need his doctor to fill out a form attesting to his health.

“Oh my doctor said you’re a perfect candidate. You’re A1 health,” said Bellefontaine.

Once his doctor filled out the form, he called the blood clinic back to make an appointment and this time he was booked in.

Bellefontaine said on three separate occasions he was told he could donate with a doctor’s note. But when he arrived for his appointment, that changed.

“The supervisor came there and said, 'Oh I’m sorry you don't qualify.’ I said, ‘I don’t?’ No. She said no,” Ballefontaine said.

Canadian Blood Services said they do have some donors who are in their 80s, but they have been continuous donors.

A spokesman said people between the ages of 67 and 71 who have not donated within the previous two years need a doctor’s note before they roll up their sleeves. But Canadian Blood Services won’t accept blood from wannabe donors 71 years and older who haven't donated recently.

“Not that we don’t want people’s blood,” said Peter MacDonald, the Atlantic director of donor and clinic services. “All of our deferral policies are in place for two reasons: for the safety of the recipient, which we’re always thinking of, but also for the safety of the donor. We’re not looking, for that reason, to start anyone up after the age of 71 as an active blood donor.”

Canadian Blood Services says it applauds Bellefontaine’s desire to give. The organization said if he wants to help he can become a volunteer instead of donating blood.

The not-for-profit said they’ll try to contact him to apologize for any miscommunication.

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