Wednesday, 9 April 2014

THICKER THAN WATER: Jamaica's Blood Bank and Lucozade mark ten years of a life-saving partnership

LIFE SUPPORT: Healthy Jamaicans aged 17-60 years can act as blood donors.

"The Blood Bank is always in need. Right now we should be getting 70,000 units of blood per year from donors, and we're only getting about half of that amount." A sobering revelation there from Sonjay Radway, one of the dozen or so nurses we encountered during Monday's blood drive (a two-day event) at the Girl Guides Headquarters in Kingston.

Since 2004, Lucozade and the National Blood Transfusion Service have been partnering to drive home the message to Jamaicans that safe blood saves lives and to spread the knowledge among the young that blood donation is a vital part of everyday life.

"We have a great concern because not enough persons come to give blood on a regular basis. So we are always in need," Radway explains. "But we've been doing our best to encourage people as much as possible, so we do a bit of marketing to make the process a bit more enticing, especially to the young people.'

And that's where Lucozade, a subsidiary of the GlaxoSmithKline conglomerate, enters the picture, putting on the two-day event with giveaways and musical entertainment to complete the package. "This is our tenth year of putting on this blood drive, and it all came out of realizing that there is a great need," notes Rebeth Streete, Lucozade's Caribbean Marketing Manager. "And it's a great fit for our brand because we're all about replenishing your energy and your fluids once you've given blood."

In addition to the numerous adults we encountered, Monday's event was also supported by reigning Miss Jamaica Universe Kerrie Baylis, a few reggae acts, as well as students of corporate area high schools like Immaculate Conception High and Kingston College, who all seemed to be enjoying themselves for the most part.

"We have watched it grow over the 10 years, and we're really grateful to persons who continue to support us," says Streete. "More and more schools have come on board; the young people are realizing that they can discard all the myths and appreciate that it's a healthy and life-saving thing to do."

Who can donate blood? Healthy people as young as 17 years and as mature as 60 years. "You need to think first of all that there's a bigger mission, and that is helping to save lives," Streete advises. "There are many occasions when people have relatives who need donations, or they themselves need blood for surgery after an accident or whatever the case may be. Donating blood means you're going to help someone else and, in the long run, you may end up helping yourself."

To learn more about the National Blood Transfusion Service and their "One Love, One Blood Partnership for Life" campaign, visit 21 Slipe Road, Kingston.

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