Today, Jamaica will host the official launch of World Blood Donor Day in the Region of the Americas at a ceremony to be held at the Emancipation Park in St Andrew.
Jamaica joins countries worldwide in raising awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products and to thank voluntary unpaid blood donors for their life-saving gift of blood.
Acknowledging that the country meets just over 50 per cent of the 60,000 units of blood it needs each year, Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson is urging more Jamaicans to donate blood.
"For every blood donation, at least three lives can be saved. Giving blood is a life-saving act of solidarity," said the Minister.
"Collection at most of our 10 centres across the island is far below the usage in those regions, which inevitably means that medical and surgical care could be seriously compromised. This is particularly significant in a country like ours where we see a number of trauma- and accident-related injuries each year."
Persons between ages 17 and 60 years are eligible to give blood, and donations can be made every three months.
"We have been seeing a slow increase in the number of donors over the years, but we have to keep getting the word out in terms of education and awareness about blood donation because there is still a lot of things people don't understand about voluntary donation. Some people still have a lot of fears about the process," said Sandra Brown Thomas, communications officer for the National Blood Transfusion Service.
"An opportunity like World Blood Donor Day gives us that chance to raise the consciousness of many more persons as to the need, the reasons, and the persons that are depending on voluntary blood donation."
Dr Carissa F. Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organisation, is in the island to take part in the opening ceremony, which will be streamed live to the rest of Jamaica and other countries in the Region of the Americas.
Four Jamaicans will be honoured at the ceremony as leading voluntary blood donors - 47-year-old Sonya Binns; as the leading donor with 80 donations and 50-year-old Eric Wilson for 75 donations; and as leading youth donors, 21-year-old Dane Gutzmer for 10 donations and 22-year-old Kimberley West for eight donations.
The 10th anniversary of World Blood Donor Day is being held under the theme 'Every Blood Donation is a Gift of Life'.