HALIFAX -- As COVID-19 measures loosen throughout the Maritimes, there is increased demand for more people to donate blood – particularly in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. However, while the need is great, some would-be donors aren't planning to give because there is nowhere to do so nearby.

Blood donation advocate, Stephanie MacPherson from Sydney, N.S., says she's more than happy to give blood – but it hasn't been easy.

"I'm happy to donate blood any chance I could get," says MacPherson. "But since moving to Cape Breton six years ago, those opportunities haven't been there."

In 2015, Canadian Blood Services closed its blood donor clinic in Sydney. The closure resulted in the nearest clinic – a mobile clinic in Port Hawkesbury – being an hour and a half drive away, which prospective donors say is too far.

With eased COVID-19 restrictions in Atlantic Canada, Canadian Blood Services is asking Nova Scotians and New Brunswickers to donate as many pints of blood as possible between late June and the end of July.

"We're seeing the need for hospital demand increase to pre-COVID levels," says Canadian Blood Services director of donor relations for the Atlantic region, Peter MacDonald.

Canadian Blood Services says it's adding hundreds of appointments each week to accommodate the rising need. The organization also notes mobile donation clinics in both provinces will be set up for safety and physical distancing.

While officials with Canadian Blood Services aren't expecting anyone to drive a great distance to give blood, they have no plans to reopen their clinic in Sydney.

"There are many dedicated donors in the Cape Breton area; we have enough capacity in the system with the mobiles that we have, and with the five permanent sites that we have in Atlantic Canada," says MacDonald. "What we need to do is fill that available capacity."

Meanwhile, for MacPherson, her reason for giving is personal. Following her mother's death in 2009 after battling blood cancer, she wants to help others.

"My connection is personal," says MacPherson. "I know that I'm not alone in that."

Meanwhile, Canadian Blood Services officials say while donations typically decrease during the summer months, 2020 hasn't been a typical year – leaving them hoping Maritimers will step up to fill the need.