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JIS News

Many people owe their lives to some persons they know and some they will never meet, who have donated that precious gift of blood to save other people’s lives.
This is the story of well-known Constabulary Communications Network’s (CCN) Liaison Officer for St. James, Corporal Peter Salkey, who was shot by thugs and left to die.
On the night of Thursday, February 7, 2008, Corporal Salkey attended a productive meeting at his church, the Bethel Town Seventh Day Adventist Church, sharing tips, in his capacity as a police, on how to raise male children. However, it was the chilling and almost fatal turn of events that has Corporal Salkey still praising the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) and his supportive network of family and friends and the Lord, for saving his life.
While in the process of reversing his car to leave, the unsuspecting Corporal heard knocking sounds on the back. He had no time to prepare for what happened next. There were two armed young men and they began firing at him.
The Corporal relays the harrowing experience of being shot close to point blank range. “I felt a hard hit on the chest. It’s as if I felt 500 strong men punching me simultaneously on the region of the chest; because I was still sitting in the car, so when I felt the hit on the chest, it kind of tucked me into the chair of the car. The impact was really great,” he tells JIS News.
One can judge the degree of this impact from his injuries. The bullet pierced his right breast and exited his body through his left side, causing severe abdominal injuries. “My liver, I was told, was shattered and the shockwave of the bullet affected my lungs. My stomach was pierced twice. The bullet entered and exited my stomach, some of my intestines were damaged, that sort of thing. So, it was serious abdominal injury,” he says.
From Corporal Salkey’s account and evidence from investigations, it befuddles even the very doctors that he survived. “Even now the doctors say it’s a miracle that I’m still here, because they have seen less damage inside (internal) than that and persons have died,” he says.
The Police Officer too remains amazed at the fact that he is alive, after being shot with a .45 weapon, which he says, is one of the most powerful guns in the world. He attributes having life to the Almighty God, a courageous will and the support of family and friends who waited agonisingly and hopefully to know if he would awake from five days of unconsciousness, and who went in droves to donate blood.
It was this gift of blood that gave Corporal Peter Salkey a second shot at life. Blood is said to comprise seven to eight per cent of total body weight in a healthy adult. A person who weighs 50 kilograms (110 pounds) is said to have an average 3.5 litres of blood, and the average adult male is said to have an average of 5.5 litres.
Corporal Salkey says his injuries resulted in blood loss of approximately 4.5 litres, leaving just about a litre to carry out essential functions of transporting, regulating and protecting the body. He needed a large quantity of blood to survive.
“I’d lost about 4.5 litres in total of my blood, which is almost all the blood that was in my body, so I had to get a lot of blood. I was made to understand that a number of persons called to say they had gone to different medical facilities to give blood,” he recalls.
Although this mad rush by loved ones to donate blood was a noble gesture much appreciated by the NBTS, Communications Officer of the NBTS, Sandra Brown-Thomas, informs that Jamaica and other countries across the world are working to significantly reduce this segment of donors, known as replacement donors – people who are motivated to give blood, only when a relative or friend is in need – and to instead, achieve 100 per cent voluntary blood donors.
The 2009 World Blood Donor Day (June 14) theme, ‘Achieving 100 per cent Non-remunerated Blood Donation of Blood and Blood Components’, reflects the resolve of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other regional and international health bodies to replace this group of donors.
Mrs. Brown-Thomas tells JIS News that despite various public education efforts and Blood Drives staged by the NBTS to recruit voluntary donors, Jamaica remains way below the set target. The target for blood collection in 2008 was 30,000 units. However, only 26,300 units were collected and only 30 per cent came from voluntary donors, some distance away from the 100 per cent target.
“While some persons may give money and time, it is a much harder sell to tell someone to give of their body – to give blood. It is much harder to get that message home. We are, however, grateful to the 30 per cent who have been receptive of the message,” she says.
Today, she has the added support of Corporal Peter Salkey, who is listed among this 30 per cent. In fact, it was a cold that prevented him from participating in a Montego Bay Police Station Blood Drive, only days before the dreadful incident.
“I have given blood before and not because someone I know needed it. I remember there was a time when I just went in and gave one unit of blood. So, I strongly believe that it is important,” he notes, endorsing the 100 per cent voluntary blood donation target.
“Don’t just go and give blood when you know that somebody you care for needs it. Just give blood when you can, because you may not be able to give blood when somebody does need it,” he implores.
The St. James cop, who is now back on the job, says that he is forever indebted to those who donated blood, just so he could live.
“The fact that persons went and gave blood because I needed that amount, and there were persons who I didn’t know, who probably just saw me on television, I am really grateful. I would definitely encourage anybody who can give, to go and give blood as it is necessary,” Corporal Salkey says.