Blood appeal: the life you save could be your own

Dear Sir,

I would like to endorse and support the appeal for more blood donors per your lead story this morning (Saturday, January 25) by Eyitayo Fakunle, the Bermuda Hospitals Board consultant haematologist, and Lucy Correia, a nurse phlebotomist at the Bermuda Blood Donor Centre.

The importance of blood donors cannot be overstated, as it can be a vital, life-giving gift to those in need.

In 1994, I was given a diagnosis of primary haemochromatosis — sometimes called “iron overload”. This is an inherited genetic deficiency that renders the body unable to dispose of iron in the normal manner. So one’s body stores and accumulates the excess iron in the joints and in organs such as the liver, heart and pancreas. This damages them. If it is not treated, haemochromatosis can make your organs stop working.

Briefly, my diagnosis came to light as a result of following-up on a blood-test result that showed some abnormality in my liver function. Internal medicine specialist Wilbert Warner was consulted and it was he who uncovered the condition, later confirmed by a liver biopsy and genetic testing, and subsequently directed my treatment. I am thankful, as I would otherwise have become very ill with major damage to the soft organs and almost certainly heart problems and diabetes, to name a few, instead of enjoying good health.

The treatment for haemochromatosis is to get rid of the iron, and the best way to do this is by removing blood. For 75 weeks, I gave a pint of blood every single week before my iron saturation started to fall. Then it was once every two weeks, then four, then six, eight and now ten weeks.

My blood type was considered highly desirable for its plasma and many times a lab tech, even pathologist Keith Cunningham himself, would be standing by my couch waiting to rush the pint of my best to the lab. So I know for certain that shedding my blood for therapy also had a positive end result in helping others at the same time as me.

I say all that to say this: never, in the literally hundreds of times that I have given a pint of blood, have I felt any discomfort or felt weak or wobbly in any way. For me, it is no worse than having a simple blood test. I am now under the watchful eye of Dr Fakunle, who regulates my treatment, and am always happy to place myself in the care of Sue, Lucy and Alma, the three clinic phlebotomists, who are very professional and highly trained in every aspect of the process, which takes just a few minutes.

I could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I have been aware, during my many visits over the past 25 years, of any patient being discomforted by the giving of blood, but these three ladies know how to take care of that, too. A glass of juice or a cup of coffee and some cookies, and you are on your way in a half-hour.

So I encourage all your readers to give serious consideration to becoming a blood donor — not once a week, obviously, but certainly once a quarter or twice a year. The hospital needs a good supply of fresh blood on hand in case of emergencies in the operating theatre — that could be you — or in the event of a serious road traffic accident.

Might that be you as the unsuspecting victim of an errant driver?

Think about it and then call 236-5067 and speak to Sue, Lucy or Alma to get started. Remember, the life you save could be your own.



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Published Feb 1, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Feb 1, 2020 at 6:24 am)

Blood appeal: the life you save could be your own

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