SHOOTINGS, stabbings, domestic violence, road accidents, haemorrhaging during child birth, dialysis and the list can go on, are all connected. All these tragic, usually sudden events, require one precious resource to produce miraculous lifesaving outcomes for the victims. Blood connects them all.
Blood is at the heart of the healing treatment required to save lives on a daily basis in a hospital setting. As the world prepares to celebrate and recognize the invaluable contribution of blood donors on “World Blood Donor Day” today, the St. Lucia Blood Bank heightens its appeal for persons to donate blood to help replenish their constantly depleting blood supply.
Medical Technologist at the St. Lucia Blood Bank, Karen Louis explained the procedure a donor goes through before blood can be accepted:
“Giving blood, we say, are the 3 S’s. It’s Safe, it’s Simple, and it Saves lives. So when you come in that’s the simple part. We take your demographics, your name, age, date of birth. We go into the most crucial part which is your interview part but before that we check to see if you have enough blood to give. We give you a slight prick on your finger, take a drop of blood and drop it in our solution. If it sinks to the bottom in 10 seconds or less that means you’re eligible to become a blood donor. For our interview segment, we need to ask you a few questions about your health and life style. We need to get an overall picture of the blood donor. If you’re accepted then we go into the fun part, the part when you save a life. You go onto our chair, you have your professional staff in a clean, well ventilated environment and we withdraw the unit of blood so it’s safe, it’s simple and it saves lives.”
This year the St. Lucia Blood Bank has teamed up with the Bureau of Health Education to heighten awareness and encourage persons to donate blood. In keeping with this thrust, public education and sensitization product such as testimonials from recipients, a panel discussion, public service announcements, community outreach sessions and posters are among the communication techniques being employed.
The medical technologist stressed that giving blood is everyone’s business ; the message is for the community to get involved, not simply an individual.
“Especially during World Blood Donor Day we want to thank our voluntary unpaid donors for the life saving gift of blood that they have given. That unit of blood can help persons in maternal and child care, massive trauma and injuries, patients going through dialysis, cancer patients, patients going through amputations, our diabetic patients. That one unit of blood can help save up to three lives and especially during World Blood Donor Day we want to encourage persons to continue to give blood.”
The blood bank hopes to motivate persons who have never donated blood before to become blood donors. Louis stated if someone donates blood from age 17 -70 one would have donated 159 times and these units of blood separated into three components could actually save 477 lives.
“The need for blood is all year round; we definitely encourage St. Lucians to come and give blood especially during this time. Carnival is coming up and this is our low period. So we want people to deposit their gift of life before the carnival and the festive season begins. A blood transfusion may arise at any point in time, at 10 in the morning or 10 at night and we need to make sure that we have all blood types so that if a situation arises we have an adequate, safe blood supply to provide to patients in need.”
During our visit to the St. Lucia Blood Bank we met Mr. Martin Paul, a first time blood donor, who felt motivated to donate blood to his sick brother who requires a transfusion. He had a simple message to anyone who would listen.
“I am trying to save a life. I would like people to do the same. Try to save somebody’s life even if it’s not your brother, try to save another person’s life. Everyone can make a contribution and give blood. I will return in September to give blood again.”