In­ter­na­tional Amer­i­can Univer­sity Sup­ports Blood Drive

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Kings­ley Em­manuel

Coun­try Pro­gram Spe­cial­ist of the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO), Valarie Beach-Home, has called on Saint Lu­cians to be­come blood donors. She made this ap­peal at a blood donor drive or­ga­nized by the In­ter­na­tional Amer­i­can Univer­sity (IAU) Col­lege of Medicine in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Blood Bank Ser­vices of St. Jude Hospi­tal and Vic­to­ria Hospi­tal in ob­ser­va­tion of World Blood Donor Day.

The mega event, which was hon­oured by the pres­ence of the newly-ap­pointed Min­is­ter of Health, Mary Isaac, was held on the school’s com­pound on Tues­day.

The theme of this year’s WHO World Blood Donor Day is: ‘Blood con­nects us all’. It fo­cuses on thank­ing blood donors and high­lights the di­men­sion of shar­ing and con­nec­tion between donors and pa­tients. The cam­paign aims to high­light sto­ries of peo­ple whose lives have been saved through blood do­na­tion, to mo­ti­vate reg­u­lar blood donors to con­tinue giv­ing blood and mo­ti­vate peo­ple in good health who have never given blood to be­gin do­ing so, par­tic­u­lar young peo­ple.

In her re­marks, Home said the goal of the Amer­i­cas, in­clud­ing Saint Lucia, is that by 2020 the blood sup­ply be 100% from vol­un­tary unpaid donors.

“The onus, there­fore, is on all of us who are ca­pa­ble, to be­come blood donors to­day” Home said. She added that as it stands world­wide, only 62 coun­tries have close to 100% of their na­tional blood sup­plies from vol­un­tary unpaid donors.

“There are 40 coun­tries in the Amer­i­cas who still de­pend on fam­ily donors, and even paid donors. In the Amer­i­cas, par­tic­u­larly in our re­gion, only 11 coun­tries have achieved this goal,” she re­vealed.

Ac­cord­ing to Home, in many coun­tries de­mand ex­ceeds sup­ply, and blood ser­vices face chal­lenges of mak­ing suf­fi­cient blood avail­able while en­sur­ing its qual­ity and safety.

“An ad­e­quate sup­ply can only be as­sured through reg­u­lar blood do­na­tions by vol­un­tary unpaid donors. WHO’s goal is for all coun­tries to ob­tain all their blood sup­plies from vol­un­tary donors by 2020,” Home said.

Chief Aca­demic Of­fi­cer of IAU, Dr. Pa­trick J Gan­non, out­lined the im­por­tance of the event and called on all Saint Lu­cians to do­nate blood will­ingly and not ex­pect any­thing in re­turn other than per­sonal sat­is­fac­tion. “You never know when you will need some­one to do­nate blood to you,” Gan­non said. He added that this should not be the only rea­son why one should do­nate blood, stat­ing that it should be done for the com­mon good.

Gan­non said he has do­nated blood through­out his life and that it has al­ways made him feel good about help­ing those in need. He was the first one in line to do­nate blood on Tues­day. A num­ber of peo­ple from all walks of life do­nated blood at the event.

One of such events which IAU held some years ago was a rag­ing suc­cess. Sixty-three units of blood were do­nated at that ses­sion, mak­ing it the high­est amount ever do­nated in a sin­gle event in Saint Lucia.

Pub­lic Re­la­tions Of­fi­cer of IAU, Sibi Gopalakr­ish­nan, in an in­ter­view with this re­porter af­ter the event, said he was sat­is­fied with the level of pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion, adding that the ac­tiv­ity dubbed ‘Gift of Blood, Gift of Life at IAU’ started in 2008 and has grown over the years.

He also thanked the St. Jude Hospi­tal and Vic­to­ria Hospi­tal Blood Bank Ser­vices for their con­tri­bu­tion to­wards the suc­cess of the event.

IAU stu­dents with Min­is­ter of Health Mary Isaac (cen­tre).

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