Increased awareness keeps blood bank supply sufficient

National 3 minutes, 10 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

BLOOD supply in the Sultanate is presently “relatively sufficient”, as more Bruneians are coming out to donate their blood to help save the lives of others, a supervisor at Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital’s Blood Donation Centre said yesterday.

Hj Matusop Hj Daud told The Brunei Times that the sufficient blood supply was brought about by the increased awareness of members of the public on the significance of blood donation as well as more regular donors over the past two years.

The Ministry of Health, through the RIPAS Blood Donation Centre, will be observing World Blood Donor Day today at the ministry’s Al-Afiah Hall.

The ministry will also be holding blood donation campaigns there on June 15 and 16.

This year’s World Blood Donor Day carries the theme “Thank you for saving my life”.

It runs with the slogan of “Give freely, give often. Blood donation matters”.

The World Blood Donors Day 2015 focuses primarily on thanking blood donors for their donations, and strongly encourages more people all over the world to donate blood voluntarily and regularly.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) website, 60 countries were reported in 2012 to be collecting 100 per cent of their blood supply from voluntary unpaid blood donors.

“Brunei was one of these countries, as all blood donations in the country are voluntary,” Hj Matusop said.

Although he could not estimate the number of regular blood donors in Brunei (who donate as soon as they are eligible again every two to four months), he said that “about 30 per cent” of blood bag supply in RIPAS generally comes from regular donors.

Hj Matusop explained that blood donations are constantly needed in every country, and that occasional shortages of certain types of blood do happen.

Hj Matusop noted that blood donors had to be healthy on the day of donation, with normal blood pressure and haemogoblin levels.

“We might have a lot of registrants at one (blood donation) drive, but the ones that are ultimately fit for donation could be just 40 or 50 per cent of them,” he said.

In line with WHO requirements, all donated blood must also be subjected to infectious disease screening like HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and Syphilis before it can be used, he also said.

Among those who use blood donations regularly were surgical patients, women with pregnancy complications before, during or after childbirth, premature infants, children with severe anaemia, leukaemia or cancer patients and burns patients.

The World Blood Donor Day 2015 also seeks to reach out to healthy people who are eligible to give blood, but who are not yet occasional or regular donors.

“Fear of needles and the associated pain are the (main) reasons for reluctance to donate blood,” Hj Matusop said.

However, he revealed that “more than 90 per cent” of the new donors usually donate again, after finding out that blood donating was a relatively painless process.

“When I tell them one blood donation can saved three lives, they realise what an impact they can make, they feel proud and decide to come back again,” Hj Matusop said.

The blood donation supervisor also reiterated the additional benefits of regular blood donating.

“There’s research that shows that if you donate blood regularly – two to three times a year – there’s less risk of cancer and also heart attacks, and you also lose around 500 calories per donation,” he said.

Regular donors are also inclined to take better care of themselves as they want to be well enough to donate blood anytime they want to, Hj Matusop pointed out.

“You’ll also get an update on the status of your health every time you donate blood, as our doctor will check your medical fitness, blood pressure and haemoglobin levels,” he said.

World Blood Donor Day was first observed in 2004.

The Brunei Times