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In honour of altruism

Rokiah Mahmud

In honour of blood donors for their life-saving gift for those in need, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared June 14 as World Blood Donor Day during the World Health Assembly in 2005.

To commemorate this year’s celebration and to replenish blood stocks, the Blood Donation Centre of the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital organised a Mega Blood Donation Campaign on June 14.

In an interview with the Bulletin, Blood Donation Centre Scientific Officer Nur Afiqah binti Abdullah said the campaign’s main objective was to attract and encourage the public to become regular blood donors and raise awareness on the importance of giving blood.

She said out of 5,732 units of blood collected in 2022, 40 per cent was used to treat patients with thalassemia, as they require blood transfusion every two to four weeks.

During the treatment, they may need three to four pints of blood depending on their haemoglobin levels.

“Sometimes, thalassemia patients encounter difficulties in finding a suitable blood match.

ABOVE & BELOW: Blood Donation Centre Scientific Officer Nur Afiqah binti Abdullah; and Basrillah bin Zainuddin, who has donated blood 111 times. PHOTOS: ROKIAH MAHMUD

Even if they are of the same blood group, cross-matching tests need to be conducted to ensure compatibility and prevent adverse reactions.

“Therefore, the centre needs to have two to three options available for cross-matching to increase the chances of finding suitable blood for patients,” she said.

“The Blood Donation Centre requires sufficient and sustainable blood supplies to meet patients’ needs. On average, they use 50 pints of blood for each of the four blood types per day.

“The figure does not include the blood demands at hospitals in other districts,” she added.

“Apart from thalassemia patients, there are also other medical treatments and procedures that require blood transfusion, such as surgeries, childbirth, and treatments for low haemoglobin level.

“The demand for blood is constant, and that’s why drives like the Mega Blood Donation Campaign aim to attract more donors, especially new ones,” she said.

“When the blood stocks at the centre are insufficient, the centre will reach out to regular blood donors due for their next donation. This helps to ensure a steady supply of blood.”

In ensuring sufficient supplies, the Blood Donation Centre conducts blood donation campaigns daily, except on public holidays, Fridays, Sundays, and at night. Additionally, they collaborate with other hospitals’ blood banks when there is a specific request.

Meanwhile, people with non-communicable diseases, like diabetes, have to undergo specific procedures to determine if they are eligible to donate blood.

The blood has a shelf life of 42 days, but due to high demand, some are used within 24 hours after screening, she said.

Basrillah bin Zainuddin, a 46-year-old who has donated blood 111 times, extended his support by urging new donors to come forward and become regulars.

He said he became a regular donor in 1996 when he was 21.

He said being a regular donor makes him feel very healthy.

“The blood we donate will be replenished by our bodies, which helps to maintain health. And we also get to help others,” he said.

He advised people to consider becoming a blood donor at a young age, “as it will help to ensure a healthy life and support the initiative.”