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Vincentians called to save lives by becoming voluntary blood donors

Vincentians called to save lives by becoming voluntary blood donors
Kamarla Questelles, senior laboratory technologist

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Persons in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) are being called upon to help save lives by becoming regular, voluntary blood donors.

The Modern Medical and Diagnostic Centre (MMDC) in Georgetown held its first ever blood drive last Friday, August 7. This blood drive was held in conjunction with the official launch of the new blood donation service at the location, which started a month prior to Friday’s event.

“The laboratory services is on board with the ministry of health and the government in expanding and decentralizing healthcare services across the region,” senior laboratory technologist, Kamarla Questelles said. “Our aim is to increase our pool of voluntary blood donors and not just voluntary blood donors but regular voluntary blood donors.

These persons have been shown to be the safest blood supply that you can get…”

The senior laboratory technologist said blood banks in St Vincent and the region function via a replacement system, where family members or friends donate to someone close to them when there is a health emergency that requires blood.

However, it is hoped that a change can be made so that 100 per cent of the blood donated is from voluntary donors so as to guarantee a stock at all times.

Questelles said that on a yearly basis, there are at least 7000 requests for blood and blood products. She also said that at least 1400 units of blood are collected in this same period.

“If each of those requests required a blood unit, we would be in such a blood deficit,” she said, noting that requests for blood in some instances are protocols that require blood to be on standby, for example, in surgical cases.

The senior lab technician outlined various scenarios where blood is needed on a regular basis and highlighted that there is always “a need for blood and blood products at the Blood Bank. You can never have enough”.

Friday’s event was celebrated under the theme “Safe blood saves lives”.

Luke Browne, minister of health said persons do not have to pursue careers in the health and medical field to save lives.

“…You could make the world a healthier place by just the simple act of giving blood,” he said.

He said last Friday’s blood drive and the new blood donation service at MMDC in Georgetown will provide persons with the opportunity to do just that.

The health minister gave blood in June this year to commemorate World Blood Donors Day.

And Browne encouraged everyone to become volunteer donors as it is an act that will help in the maintenance and advancement of health services in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Chief laboratory technician Elliot Samuel and Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves were among the speakers who delivered remarks at Friday’s event at the MMDC, which was officially opened on July 2, 2018.