Call for blood donors

Lyna Mohamad

“Over 90 pints have been collected daily since last Saturday, which is promising, but it needs to be kept up,” said Head of Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Blood Donation Centre Chong Kim Moi.

The numbers shot up following a viral message regarding a thalassemia patient who was in need of blood for transfusion on social media as well as calls from Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar for public to step up to the plate.

Thalassemia is an inherited blood disorder that affects the body’s ability to produce sufficient amount haemoglobin. As haemoglobin enables red blood cells to carry oxygen, thalassemia can cause anaemia, leaving the patient fatigued, with the impact ranging from mild to severe to life-threatening.

A person may not a mild form of thalassemia, which does not necessitate treatment. However, more severe forms may require regular blood transfusions.

“We need donors to step forward and not just during the ‘viral’ timewhich then leads to a drop in the number of donors afterwards,” said Chong, while adding that active donors “should come back after 56 days. That way, we can secure blood stock for everyone”.

Overview of the temporary blood donation centre at the lobby of the Health Promotion Centre, Ministry of Health. PHOTO: BAHYIAH BAKIR

He said, “With the second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak, there are individuals who show reluctance in coming forward to make a donation not because they are not keening on making a difference; but merely wary of the coronavirus.

“Thankfully, there are people out there who do trust that the procedure will be conducted with the strictest adherence to the standard operating procedure (SOP) to safeguard the donors as well as the medical team deployed to the temporarily set-up blood donation centre.”

Chong said several measures have been taken to gain public confidence, including temporarily moving to more spacious lobby area of the Health Promotion Centre, Ministry of Health (MoH).

A stringent SOP is also in place including temperature check, social distancing, mask mandate at all times, and sanitising of hands before and after the donation. Donors need to undergo the antigen rapid test (ART), and only those with green BruHealth code are allowed to enter the premises. The chairs and equipment are also sanitised regularly.

“We capped the maximum donors to 100 per day. Although walk-ins are available, we strongly encourage donors to book a slot through the Bloodkad application to avoid disappointment,” he said. “Walk-ins will need to take turns, as the available of a slot depends on the situation. They may have to wait long to get a slot since priority is given to those who booked through Bloodkad and if there are too many people booked on the day, walk-ins will not be accepted.”

Recently, several members of the local media were among the donors who answered the call by rolling up their sleeves for a good cause.