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The Gift Of Life

By Fay Knowles

WHEN my husband Erskine was admitted to Doctors Hospital during 2013 I visited the blood bank there, as we had sent out an appeal for blood. Unfortunately, I am unable to give blood now, but I did so years ago.

Lying comfortably on one of the beds in the blood bank was a well-known young politician, waiting to donate blood. He told me although he is very busy, being in the House of Assembly most days, he tries to give blood regularly.

I found out that blood only has a shelf life of one month, something I never knew, so that shows how important it is for those who can give blood to do so as often as possible.

Seventeen kind people and even one person we didn’t even know, but who stood in for his friend who was off the island, rushed to Doctors Hospital to donate blood for Erskine. Several told us they were disappointed when told they couldn’t give blood for one reason or another (low iron in the case of some of the women), but the hospital was still pleased with the response.

According to a brochure put out by Doctors Hospital, one out of every ten hospitalised patients requires a transfusion and some individuals need blood as regular ongoing treatment.

Doctors Hospital says donating a pint of blood never places the donor at risk for getting any disease such as AIDS or hepatitis. The sterile collection kits used for blood donations are completely disposable and are discarded after each donor procedure. And they add, only a person with a clean bill of health can give blood.

According to Doctors Hospital, blood from each accepted donor goes through extensive testing.

To give blood, Doctors Hospital asks that you are in general good health; you are at least 18 years old; you weigh at least 110 lbs; you have not had any body piercing or tattoos within one year, and you have not had acupuncture or electrolysis in the past year.

Donating blood is a simple process, with the blood collection segment taking only about 10 minutes.

The whole procedure takes less than an hour. And you get to have your pulse, temperature, blood group, blood pressure and iron checked for free.

After the donation you relax and are given a refreshing juice or malt drink.

You may donate blood every eight weeks, as Doctors Hospital says immediately after you donate your body starts to replace the blood you have given.

They also say type O negative is the universal donor and can give blood to any other blood type. AB positive, which they say occurs in only 2.5 per cent of the population, is the universal recipient and can receive blood from any other blood type.

Shortly after being released from Doctors Hospital, my husband was admitted to the Princess Margaret Hospital Men’s Surgical Ward for a few days. He didn’t need blood while he was there. However, the PMH and Rand Memorial Hospitals are always calling for blood donors. The PMH must have a great need with so many accidents and victims of violent crime.

As Doctors Hospital says, your single donation can be used to help up to three persons. They also remind us that those persons could be a friend, family member and coworker.

One day it could be you who needs blood and you can only hope that enough people have given the generous gift of life.

• For more information, call the Doctors Hospital blood bank at 302-4750; Princess Margaret Hospital’s blood bank at 322-2861, ext. 3096, or Rand Memorial Hospital in Freeport at 352-6735.

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