JIS News

KINGSTON — The National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) is taking its blood donor appeal to the streets, with the staging of a walk on World Blood Donor Day (WBDD), Tuesday, June 14.

The Blood for Life Walk, being held in collaboration with the Junior Chamber International of Kingston, will begin at 6:30 a.m. at the NBTS’ Slipe Pen Road office and end at the Ministry of Health, 2-4 King Street, downtown Kingston, where a blood drive will be held.

Speaking at a recent JIS Think Tank, NBTS Communications Officer, Sandra Brown-Thomas, said the Blood for Life Walk is in keeping with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) focus in 2011 to “paint the world red” through symbolic gestures aimed at reinforcing the need for more people to become “life-savers”.

All clad in red, the participants in the walk will bear signs with messages aimed at recruiting voluntary blood donors and highlighting other key aspects of the donation process. Students from the University of the West Indies, the University of Technology and staff of the Kingston Public Hospital, are expected to take part.

Mrs. Brown-Thomas said vountary blood donation is critical, given the large number of trauma and accident-related injuries seen each year.

In 2008, 3,018 patients were seen in health centres alone for intentional or violence-related injuries, an 11.4 per cent increase over the 2,709 seen in 2007. For unintentional or accident-associated injuries, the number of visits was 23,074 in 2008 moving from 10,847 the previous year.

“We want you to realize that this is a national cause and we need people to volunteer to donate blood,” she stated.

Now in its eighth year of observance, World Blood Donor Day seeks to raise awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products.

Mrs. Brown-Thomas said the local theme for the day: More Blood Donors, More Healthy Lives, seeks to highlight the crucial role donors play in sustaining the country’s health care system.

She explained that, on average, a patient usually requires a minimum of two units of blood, but with only one unit taken from each donor at any one time, there is always need for more donations to meet needs. The national quota, she informed, is close to 50,000 units and with an increasing population, this will continue to grow.

“People are going to get sick and they are really going to need blood as part of their therapy…without the blood service being in a position of sustainability, we really won’t be able to enjoy good public health,” she argued.

Mrs. Brown-Thomas is appealing to persons in good health to visit the blood drive at the Ministry of Health on Tuesday and become a voluntary donor.  Organisations and agencies within the vicinity are also invited to participate.

“The shortage of blood cannot be fully solved with money. Everybody can, therefore, participate in that process by giving unselfishly and unreservedly,” she stated.

Activities for Blood Donor Day started on Sunday, June 12 with a thanksgiving service and blood drive at the Swallowfield Chapel.