Wednesday, 15 June 2016

LIFE SUPPORT: Observing World Blood Donor Day, Jamaicans urged to ‘share life, give blood’

CHEERFUL GIVERS: “[Blood donations] should be a normal and routine part of our lives,” says health minister Dr. Chris Tufton. 

They beamed radiantly as they joined health minister Dr. Christopher Tufton on stage for a round of photographs inside the Emancipation Park, forming a semi-circle around the main object of focus. The unveiling of the Donor Roll of Honour, an enormous plaque, was one of the highlights at Tuesday morning’s opening ceremony of Donorfest, an all-day blood drive and wellness fair in celebration of World Blood Donor Day, observed under the theme “Blood connects us all.”

The plaque bears the names of over 50 civic-minded Jamaicans who have donated 50 units (or more) of blood to the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS). Among those in attendance to share in the moment were Sonya Binns and Rev. Howard Gregory, the renowned clergyman. “I see it as part of my public service to make this kind of contribution. I have given more than that recognized figure because sometimes people just come and ask me, and I do it,” Rev. Gregory tells TALLAWAH of his blood-donating history. “So the units I’ve given towards this is actually more than 50.”

He’s now past the age limit, of course, to qualify as a donor (the appropriate donor age span is 17-60 years) but Rev. Gregory still exudes the aura of a cheerful giver. “I wish I could give some more,” he admits.

This is the kind of upbeat spirit of generosity that the health minister is urging more Jamaicans to adopt, as his ministry and its relevant agencies seek to increase national awareness. “I don’t think we can reiterate enough that donating blood is a way of helping the entire country. This is a critical component of our overall human experience,” Dr. Tufton emphasized during his address on Tuesday. 

Against the backdrop of the high volume of trauma cases, accidents and other emergencies, and blood-transfusion procedures that the island’s hospitals have to grapple with daily, the minister stressed that the need for blood is constant. “We shouldn’t have to wait until tragedies arise. “[Blood donations] should be a normal and routine part of our lives,” he said.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), of which Jamaica is an active member, by 2020 all countries should have achieved 100 percent voluntary, non-remuneratory blood donation ‘compliance’. As such, the health ministry, Dr. Tufton pointed out, remains committed to reviving the blood bank advisory committee and is employing several initiatives to encourage more donors to step up, including the training of donor managers, the issuing of pledge forms and donor cards and more public education drives.

>> DID YOU KNOW: Blood donation is the ultimate life-saver in Jamaica’s hospitals? “Every two seconds someone needs blood,” reveals Dr. Angella Scott, Director of the National Laboratory Service.

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