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Blood on the go - Mobile collection unit proves a hit on its first outing

Published:Sunday | January 11, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Joeith Johnson (right), technical assistant/phlebotomist, preparing to take blood from first-time donor, Shana-Lee Bailey, at the launch of mobile blood collection drive yesterday. - Jermaine Barnaby/Photographer

Andrew Harris, Sunday Gleaner Writer

Paul Barrett spent yesterday morning encouraging persons in Half-Way Tree, St Andrew, to be among the first to give blood at the Blood Bank's new mobile collection unit.

This was the start of a mobile blood drive organised by the Jamaica National Building Society outside its office on Constant Spring Road.

The 49-year-old Barrett had a solid reason to be fishing for donors. His wife, Shelly-Ann, is in need of some 200 units of blood for her survival.

According to Barrett, he invited friends and family members from as far as St Thomas to take part in this drive as his wife, who recently gave birth to their child, had a rare blood disorder that was discovered during her pregnancy.

"Blood is the only treatment for this illness," said Barrett with a look of despair on his face and a trembling voice.

"She needs as many units of blood as possible and she needs it immediately. I have been encouraging donors, and after I heard it over the news about the mobile unit being here, I had to gather friends and family to come and support, and also encourage as many others as I can."

He said they had collected about 40 units of blood by mid-morning.

Mobile unit important

"This mobile unit is very important because the Blood Bank is closed today, and this is the only place that I can invite relatives to donate, those who are willing," Barrett noted.

First-time blood donor Kayon Small agreed that the new mobile unit is very convenient.

"I always wanted to give blood and after seeing the interview on Smile Jamaica, I realised that I could be able to do it for a first time, and I am considering doing it again," said Small.

The sponsorship of the Mobile Unit was made possible by Angelia Christian, founder of the Angel Foundation; RAFFA/Blood for Life; Grace Foods UK, as well as other partners, and was donated to National Blood Transfusion Service (Blood Bank) on Friday, January 2.

"This makes us more accessible and will be a big help in meeting our target of about 30,000 units of blood for the year," said Igal Allen, blood donation organiser at the Blood Bank.