Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Crime leading to blood shortage, say specialists

Published:Wednesday | June 14, 2017 | 6:00 AM
Oneiley Williams, security and safety analyst at Digicel, gets some help from nurse Patricia Thompson-Johnson as he makes his donation to the Blood Bank. In recognition of World Blood Donor Day 2017, Digicel partnered with the National Blood Transfusion Service to host a blood drive at its headquarters in downtown Kingston yesterday.

With Jamaica recording close to 630 murders since the start of the year, some blood specialists believe that the associated violence might be contributing to a shortage of blood at the National Blood Transfusion Service.

The claim comes as Jamaicans recognise World Blood Donation Day, which is celebrated on June 14 each year.

Blood drive organiser Igol Allen said, "In any area that there are increased levels of violence, there will be an increase of demand for blood."

"The Blood Bank is very short of blood, especially in Montego Bay, where the crime rate is so high. It depletes the Blood Bank a lot," reiterated Hospiten lab manager Caval Miller.

Allen said currently Jamaica only meets 50 per cent of its blood demand.

"There is always a need for blood. It is not something we can manufacture, and there is no substitute for it," he added.

Pointing to the health benefits for the donor, Miller said, "Not only could you be saving the lives of up to three persons by donating blood, but you could be saving your own life, as you may need blood in the long run."

Noting that persons can donate blood every four months, he added, "giving blood allows your body to make new cells".

Addressing the fact that persons usually shy away from donating blood because of a fear of needles, Allen sought to assure potential donors that the procedure is safe.

"There is no need to worry, as we always use clean needles and we try to make you as comfortable as possible," he said.

- Myesha Broadie