Country Program Specialist of the World Health Organization (WHO), Valarie Beach-Home, has called on Saint Lucians to become blood donors. She made this appeal at a blood donor drive organized by the International American University (IAU) College of Medicine in collaboration with the Blood Bank Services of St. Jude Hospital and Victoria Hospital in observation of World Blood Donor Day.
The mega event, which was honoured by the presence of the newly-appointed Minister of Health, Mary Isaac, was held on the school’s compound on Tuesday.
The theme of this year’s WHO World Blood Donor Day is: ‘Blood connects us all’. It focuses on thanking blood donors and highlights the dimension of sharing and connection between donors and patients. The campaign aims to highlight stories of people whose lives have been saved through blood donation, to motivate regular blood donors to continue giving blood and motivate people in good health who have never given blood to begin doing so, particular young people.
In her remarks, Home said the goal of the Americas, including Saint Lucia, is that by 2020 the blood supply be 100% from voluntary unpaid donors.
“The onus, therefore, is on all of us who are capable, to become blood donors today” Home said. She added that as it stands worldwide, only 62 countries have close to 100% of their national blood supplies from voluntary unpaid donors.
“There are 40 countries in the Americas who still depend on family donors, and even paid donors. In the Americas, particularly in our region, only 11 countries have achieved this goal,” she revealed.
According to Home, in many countries demand exceeds supply, and blood services face challenges of making sufficient blood available while ensuring its quality and safety.
“An adequate supply can only be assured through regular blood donations by voluntary unpaid donors. WHO’s goal is for all countries to obtain all their blood supplies from voluntary donors by 2020,” Home said.
Chief Academic Officer of IAU, Dr. Patrick J Gannon, outlined the importance of the event and called on all Saint Lucians to donate blood willingly and not expect anything in return other than personal satisfaction. “You never know when you will need someone to donate blood to you,” Gannon said. He added that this should not be the only reason why one should donate blood, stating that it should be done for the common good.
Gannon said he has donated blood throughout his life and that it has always made him feel good about helping those in need. He was the first one in line to donate blood on Tuesday. A number of people from all walks of life donated blood at the event.
One of such events which IAU held some years ago was a raging success. Sixty-three units of blood were donated at that session, making it the highest amount ever donated in a single event in Saint Lucia.
Public Relations Officer of IAU, Sibi Gopalakrishnan, in an interview with this reporter after the event, said he was satisfied with the level of public participation, adding that the activity dubbed ‘Gift of Blood, Gift of Life at IAU’ started in 2008 and has grown over the years.
He also thanked the St. Jude Hospital and Victoria Hospital Blood Bank Services for their contribution towards the success of the event.