Blood donation is a critical and constant need in the community and all healthy people are encouraged to become frequent blood donors, and to not wait until a relative is sick to donate. Blood is essential to help patients survive surgeries, cancer treatment, chronic illnesses, and traumatic injuries. The lifesaving care starts with just one person making a donation.
Donating blood is one of the most important things a person can do to help others in need as there is no substitute for blood. It cannot be manufactured.
“Everyday, we get about three to four people in hospital who are dying as a result of a shortage of blood,” said Basil Christie, founder of Friends of the Blood Bank Foundation.
“A single donation produces three different blood products – red blood cells, platelets and plasma – which can then be used to help up to three patients.”
Platelets help the body create clots to stop bleeding. Platelet donations are critical for patients who are fighting cancer, chronic diseases and traumatic injuries.
Plasma is used to help patients with severe burns, cancer or other potentially life-threatening conditions.
Christie said a healthy person can donate blood every eight weeks.
“We only take one pint of blood from a donor and, within 30 days, that blood is replenished,” said Christie. “As soon as you give, the body replenishes itself.”
The average adult body has 10 to 12 pints of blood in circulation. Extra fluids after donating restores the volume in less than 24 hours.
Christie, who, in his lifetime has donated more than 150 pints of blood, started donating blood in his college years. He did so for the simple reason that he was giving of himself.
“I just wanted to give,” he said. It’s one thing to give money, but to be able to give of myself was another thing.”
Christie said blood donation is beneficial to the recipient and to the donor.
“All healthy people, we encourage them to become healthy blood donors. We invite all healthy Bahamians to become frequent blood donors and not wait until a relative is sick.”
According to Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) information, donation takes approximately 30 minutes from start to finish. People wanting to donate, register and are given a mini physical – their temperature and iron level are checked and recorded. Prior to donating, their pulse and blood pressure are taken and recorded. The actual blood draw takes between five to seven minutes.
To donate, according to PMH literature, a person must be 17 years or older. People over the age of 65 may donate if they are in good health. Donors must weigh at least 110 pounds and be in generally good health. And never had hepatitis.
Christie said all donors are given a preliminary medical screening and that the blood is taken to check their iron level and blood pressure checked. The donated blood he said goes through secondary screening in the laboratory to check for things such as sickle cell traits, diabetic traits or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
He said if a person tests positive for an issue that would make them ineligible to donate blood, that they are contacted confidentially. He said only people who receive a clean bill of health are allowed to donate blood.
According to Doctors Hospital Blood Bank, one out of every 10 hospitalized patients will require a lifesaving blood and/or platelet transfusion. And that those in need include accident, burn, or trauma victims; cancer patients; transplant patients; newborn babies and mothers delivering babies; surgery
patients and more.
Doctors Hospital literature says in order to donate blood, a person must be in general good health; at least 18 years old; weigh at least 110 pounds; have not had dental work within four weeks; and have not had body piercing, tattoo, acupuncture or electrolysis in the last year.
The Doctors Hospital site says donating a pint of blood never places the donor at risk for getting any diseases. And that the sterile collection kits used for blood donations are disposable and discarded after each donor procedure.
According to the Red Cross, maintaining diversity in the blood supply is also essential as some blood types are rare and are likeliest to be found among people with shared ancestral origins.
The PMH Blood Bank over the years frequently makes calls throughout the year for people to donate all types of blood.
“The appeal is for all citizens to give blood,” said Christie. “Every time the donor gives blood, the body regenerates new blood.”
While he said many women use the excuse of iron deficiency as an excuse not to donate blood, he said it is only a temporary condition. And he said too many people use the excuse of being scared of needles. He said it’s just a little prick.
He established Friends of the Blood Bank Foundation which organizes blood drives countrywide. The foundation sets up the schedule and ensures the equipment such as beds are set up at the determined site. The foundation notifies the Blood Bank which provides the phlebotomists to draw the blood.
Friends of the Blood Bank Foundation has organized a blood drive for two weeks at The Mall at Marathon. Aliv, along with Rotary Club of Southeast Nassau, has given the foundation a van which it utilizes to assist the foundation in what it does.