Every blood donation can potentially save up to three lives

Every blood donation can potentially save up to three lives

On World Blood Donor Day today, people are encouraged to donate blood as many will leave for summer holidays.

By Staff Reporter

Published: Mon 15 Jun 2015, 12:43 AM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:10 PM

Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, after donating blood recently. — Wam file photo

Dubai - The public is being urged to volunteer and donate blood, especially those with rare and negative blood groups.

Ahead of World Blood Donor Day today, officials said that though the demand for blood is being met, individuals are encouraged to donate blood and blood products during the summer months because a lot of people leave the country for holidays.

This year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is observing the day under the theme ‘Thank you for saving my life’, to express gratitude to all the people who save lives by donating blood and blood products.

Every blood donation can potentially save up to three lives. Blood and blood products are needed for trauma patients, women who experience severe bleeding after a C-section delivery, during cardiac and other surgeries. Regular blood and platelet transfusions are needed for thalassaemia patients and those with other blood disorders and for cancer patients who need blood transfusion during and after chemotherapy.

Dr Ala Alwan, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, said the role of donors is increasingly vital as in many countries, demand exceeds supply, and blood services face the challenge of making sufficient blood available while also ensuring its quality and safety.

In 2012, around 4.2 million blood donations were collected from all types of blood donors in 11 countries of the region. In those same countries, approximately six million units of blood and blood products were transfused.

“Today, in just 62 countries, national blood supplies are based on or close to 100 per cent voluntary unpaid blood donations, with 40 countries still dependent on family donors and even paid donors,” Dr Alwan said.

“In the region, the overall percentage of voluntary blood donations in 2012 was 64 per cent. Based on available data, only two countries have achieved or are very close to achieving a blood supply that comes from 100 per cent voluntary non-remunerated blood donations. At the same time, we still have three countries that collect less than 25 per cent of their blood supplies from voluntary unpaid blood donors.”

The WHO has set a goal for all countries to obtain all their blood supplies from voluntary unpaid donors by 2020. The Dubai Health Authority’s (DHA’s) Twitter clinic on Thursday also encouraged people to donate. Dr Ranjita Sharma, head of medical care unit and specialist registrar at the Dubai Blood Donation Centre (DBDC), said that the centre will have additional working hours during the holy month of Ramadan.

She said that individuals observing fast can donate blood after Iftar. “People who are fasting can donate blood once they have broken their fast and replenished their bodies with water and food.”

Donate more

Dr Sharma said while Dubai is meeting the demand for blood, the centre strongly encourages blood and blood product donation during the summer months because a lot of people leave the country for holidays. “In the summer months, we encourage people to directly visit the centre and donate blood. Additionally, we would also like to request people to put their names in our database, so that we can contact them according to the demand and supply.”

In Dubai, the DHA-run DBDC supplies blood to all government and some private hospitals in Dubai and the Northern Emirates. Of the total blood requirements in the UAE, 50 per cent is collected by DBDC.

Dr Ranjita encouraged the public to not only donate blood but also blood products. “Regular blood donation takes 15 minutes, while platelet collection takes 45 minutes to one hour. Platelets are needed for a variety of medical reasons including managing post C-section bleeding, for  all kinds of cancer cases etc.

“It is important to understand that blood expires every 42 days; platelets (which are needed mainly for cancer patients and those experiencing bleeding due an accident or surgical procedure) expire in just five days. Therefore, we prefer to have regular donors who register with us and who can be contacted depending on the need of the centre. Of course a certain amount of all blood and platelets are stored but we cannot overstock a product with such a short shelf life.”

Having a database of donors is particularly important for rare blood groups such as O-ve, said Dr Sharma. “A person with this blood group can supply blood to all blood groups but an individual with this blood group can only receive O-ve blood.”

She added that Thalassemia patients, as young as six months, need blood every three to four weeks for survival and this adds to the demand for blood. “You can donate blood every eight weeks, and platelets up to 24 times a year.”

Zainab Ali, assistant administration officer at the centre, encouraged organisations to hold mobile blood donation campaigns. She said: “We understand that people do not always find the time to come to the centre and therefore we regularly reach out to them through the mobile blood donation bus, which is fully-equipped and has state-of-the-art facilities for blood collection. At a time, we can collect blood from 200 donors and our message to organisations is to try and organise such blood collection drives at their premises which will directly help in saving lives of community members.”

In 2014, the DBDC carried out 587 blood donation campaigns, of which 227 were outdoor campaigns, another 227 were mobile campaigns and 133 campaigns were conducted at the premises of the centre.

The DHA blood donation centre is located at the premises of Latifa Hospital and individuals interested in donating blood may contact the centre at 04-2193221 or 04-2193786, or alternately, they may contact the DHA toll free number 800-342.


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