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Blood bank still low as call made for donations


Tribune Staff Reporter

OFFICIALS from Princess Margaret Hospital’s blood bank are appealing to the public to donate blood as supplies remain low.

This comes after Public Hospitals Authority managing director Dr Aubynette Rolle revealed earlier this week that the country’s blood banks are in a “critical” state.

A PHA blood drive will be held this Saturday from 10am to 4pm at the Mall at Marathon.

According to officials yesterday, people aged 17 and up can be screened to give blood once their health is in good condition; 16-year-olds can also donate blood, but only with parental consent.

Krystal Bain-Symonette, a senior technologist at PMH, explained how the process works during a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister yesterday.

“The blood donation process is a relatively simple process,” she said. “Once you come into the blood bank, you confirm that you would have had a meal close enough to the time of donation. We give you a health questionnaire form – it’s called the donor health questionnaire.”

“I know a lot of persons, especially those who come regularly, it’s a little bit tedious for them to fill out the form, but it’s important for us to have that information as it helps us to identify those donors who are ineligible at that time.

“And that form is also important because it gives us consent to use that blood for the treatment of patients and once you fill out the questionnaire, we do a pre-donation health screening. We check your blood pressure. We check your hemoglobin, and we check your pulse, and we ask questions related to the questionnaire.”

She said once this process is complete, individuals will be sent to donate a pint of blood.

Only 70 percent of people actually pass the general health screening to donate a pint of blood, she said.

People ineligible to give blood include those with high blood pressure, below normal hemoglobin or other health related reasons.

“We also have to defer based on sometimes travel history, sometimes based on the medication the person is on and we also have to consider questions related to lifestyle factors,” Mrs Bain-Symonette added.

Men who have sex with men are also not considered to be eligible to donate blood.

When asked the reason for this, Mrs Bain-Symonette replied that this was the global standard.

“Some countries are relaxed on that but we follow standards set by the World Health Organisation and they have maintained that particular point of deferral so we will follow those guidelines until otherwise indicated,” she added.

With respect to people with tattoos, she said they can donate blood, but added that they are deferred for a period of 12 months.

The call for blood donations follows an investigation being launched on the death of Kenise Darville.

Mrs Darville posted a gut-wrenching video on Facebook on January 11, where she claimed doctors at PMH waited several days after she was admitted before informing her that she needed to make an urgent plea to friends and family for blood donations.

The mother died on January 19, after being admitted only two weeks earlier.