• JIS News

    Giving blood to save someone else’s life is one of the most important public service anyone can offer, and the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS), or Blood Bank, is currently on a drive to get the message across to more Jamaicans.
    Blood is vital for life, as it is a specialised bodily fluid that delivers vital substances to the body’s cells, such as nutrients and oxygen, and transports waste products away from those cells.
    “It is a key part of the whole business of trying to keep the health of the population. It is primarily used for persons definitely in trauma cases, like accidents, acts of violence.burn victims are also required to use blood to help in their care,” notes Communications Officer at the NBTS, Sandra Brown Thomas, in an interview with JIS News.
    She says that persons undergoing any surgical procedure, normally will need blood to replace what they have lost, as there may be excessive bleeding.
    “Sometimes the pregnant woman would experience bleeding complications and also the treatment for that would, naturally, be that they might have to get a transfusion,” she explains.
    Ms. Brown Thomas informs that any person aged 17 to 60 years, is in good health and weighs more than 110 pounds or 40 kilograms, is able to give blood.
    Donors are encouraged to have a good night’s rest, a meal half an hour to three hours before donating and wear loose fitting clothing, especially the upper garment, before donating.
    The Communications Officer says that persons who are hypertensive and are on medication are allowed to donate blood under current regulations. Diabetics on oral medication without any complications are also able to donate, as well as persons who have a sickle cell trait.
    She highlights that donating blood is a safe process, and the NBTS ensures that all precautions are taken.
    “A big part of voluntary blood donation is safety, first and foremost; the health and safety of the person who is the donor, at one end, and secondly the health and safety of the recipient,” she notes.
    Ms. Brown Thomas posits that the NTBS adheres to all the international standards, in terms of testing for the various blood borne diseases, to ensure that the recipient is getting blood of the highest quality that will help to make them well.
    She says that there are benefits to giving blood, including free medical checks.
    “We check your blood pressure and we check your haemoglobin level to determine whether you are anemic or not.actually that’s a benefit, because a lot of times persons are not even aware that their blood pressure is high, or that their iron (level) is low. our tests are able to, at least, help them to determine that and to take steps to ensure that they have them corrected,” she says.
    Other tests that are done to ensure that the blood is safe prior to transfusion are Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Human T-cell Lymphotropic Virus Type 1 (HTLV-I), Hepatitis B and C and any other blood borne disease.
    “Those are among the most common blood borne diseases that the Blood Bank tests for before donating blood. Once the blood has passed safely through the testing phase, then it will be packaged as available to be transfused,” Ms. Brown Thomas explains.
    After donations are made to the Blood Bank, further testing is done at a Lab to ensure that it is compatible with the recipient’s.
    “As part of the transfusion process, cross matching, which is matching the unit to the potential recipient, takes place, usually at the cross matching lab.
    She says that voluntary blood donations allow for a much more efficient system, and ensure that the Bank is able to meet the needs of patients, adding that there are active programmes in schools and college to encourage young persons to donate blood.
    Persons sometimes have the preconception that giving blood is a difficult procedure, however this is not so, as the procedure is relatively painless. The five-step procedure takes about 35 minutes. Individuals interested in donating blood may do so at several locations across the island, or contact the NTBS at 922-5181-5.

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