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Island in desperate need of more blood donors

Young residents are being urged to donate blood to prevent shortages and save lives.

Bermuda's pool of donors is aging and the number of people giving grows smaller every year, Dr Eyitayo Fakunle, consultant haematologist at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, warned today.

He said the number of young donors on the Island trailed behind the worldwide average.

“Globally, 38 percent of donors are under the age of 25. In Bermuda, less than four percent of donors are under 25,” he said.

“Every year we lose a number of senior donors.”

A need for donors of all ages was also highlighted — only two percent of Bermuda's eligible population donates, which is a small number compared with the six percent average in other developed countries.

Dr Fakunle said efforts to encourage donors, especially young ones, would continue and he hoped the efforts of long-term donors would act as an inspiration.

Specific praise and recognition was given to three retiring blood donors who have all given blood for between 16 and 29 years — Geoffrey Flint, Rudolph Dowling and Jill Moniz.

Health Minister Jeanne Atherden also emphasised the need for more blood donors as she launched World Blood Donor Week for Bermuda.

This year's theme is ‘Give Blood for those who give life: safe blood for saving mothers' and highlights that new mothers are among the range of people who may need a transfusion — it's not only accidents or surgeries that require blood stocks.

Minister Atherden said: “Mothers and babies can also need blood.

“Complications in labour are rare but they do happen. This can happen in an emergency situation during labour, if there is a haemorrhage.

“It can be very hard to gain new donors who regularly donate.

“We hope to encourage more members of the community to step up.”

A new mother who received a vital transfusion repeated the minister's plea for donors and highlighted the importance of available blood.

Nicole Brockington said blood donors “saved my life” after the birth of her daughter in March this year.

She suffered excessive blood loss during delivery which left her feeling “unsteady, immobile and feeble . . . even breastfeeding was a task”.

“Nicole said: “Immediately after the transfusion I felt rejuvenated. I had experienced a reinvigorated force that allowed me to jump right back into motherhood and love my newborn in the way she deserved.

“This was all possible because someone took the time out of their day to donate blood to save another person's life.”

Christine Virgil, clinical director of maternity at KEMH, said about 1.8 percent of the total number of patients who had a transfusion last year were mothers.

“When complications arise it can happen unexpectedly and is often very scary,” she said.

“I hope people are inspired to donate blood if they know their donations help save the lives of mothers and their babies in Bermuda.”

Those wishing to donate should call KEMH on 236-5067 or e-mail blood.donor@bhb.bm.

It takes just 30 minutes to donate and parking is available at the hospital for donors.

Minister of Health, Seniors and the Environment Jeanne Atherden speaks at a press conference on blood donation flanked by donor Amanda Darrell with daughter Evelyn, transfusion recipient Laura Petronzi with son Asher Munro, transfusion recipient Nicole Brockington, clinical director of maternity Christine Virgil, and consultant haematologist Dr Eyitayo Fakunle. (Photo by Mark Tatem)

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Published June 09, 2014 at 4:30 pm (Updated June 09, 2014 at 4:32 pm)

Island in desperate need of more blood donors

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