Looking for youthful blood donors
College students are to be targeted by the island’s blood bank in an attempt to boost the number of young donors.
Lucy Correia, a nurse phlebotomist at the Bermuda Blood Donor Centre, said an ageing population had sparked the appeal.
She explained: “Our population is getting older and requiring more blood products.
“Our blood donors are also ageing, and we see many retire each year from donating.
“A priority for us therefore is to encourage more donors in the 18 to 24 age group as these are the people who will donate for many years to come, but they remain difficult to recruit as many are at university overseas.
Schools have already been contacted in an effort to make teenagers aware of the need for blood donation.
Ms Correia said: “We have started to reach out to the high schools and plan to contact the Bermuda College this year.
“In going to the schools, we hope to introduce the need for blood donation early.”
Ms Correia highlighted that 17-year-olds can donate blood with the written permission of a parent or guardian.
Eyitayo Fakunle, the Bermuda Hospitals Board consultant haematologist, said yesterday that people aged under 25 made up less than 4 per cent of blood donors last year.
One person was under 18 and 38 were in the 18 to 24 age bracket — a total of 39 donors out of 1,024.
Dr Fakunle told a Hamilton Rotary Club meeting in February, 2019, that the World Health Organisation recommended that 38 per cent of a country’s donors should be in the 18 to 24 category.
But in Bermuda, 615 people who gave blood last year were aged 45 or more, and 370 were between 25 and 44.
A total of 124 people were new donors last year, compared with 900 existing donors.
The blood donor centre recorded a slight increase in demand “due to a small number of unwell patients” last month, when 162 units were used, compared to 136 in December 2018 and 133 for the same month in 2017.
Ms Correia explained: “The Blood Donor Centre from time to time puts calls out on social media as well as calling donors by phone for certain types of blood.
“Our need is based on the demand on those groups being used in the hospital for various reasons, for example, surgeries, dialysis, anaemia and so on.
“We hope putting calls out on social media brings awareness to the public to donate blood and attract new donors.
“The most needed blood groups are O positive and A positive which reflects the population in Bermuda, but all blood groups are important.”
She added: “December is a difficult month to book donors as families are on holiday overseas as soon as the schools are out.
“This is also an issue for other public holidays.
“This results in more calls being made to ensure we have adequate supplies over the Christmas and new year holiday season.”
• Anyone interested in donating blood should call 236-5067, e-mail email@example.com, or visit the Bermuda Blood Donor Centre Facebook page. Blood donation sessions are held from Monday to Thursday between 8.30am and 2.30pm and on Fridays from 8.30am to 1pm at the centre, which is based at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital
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