Otterman speaks... (2003-2007)
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Otterman speaks...

Cycling, macintosh, natural history and life in Singapore - Archives

List of Categories : cycling * meow * world * movies * NUS * mangroves * mac and the internet * lit * Singapore Naturalist * museum * science * kakis * life in Singapore * travel *

Wed 11 Jul 2007

Blood stocks are almost always low

Category : life in Singapore

The Tomorrow post and its comments highlights a tragic case about a pregnant patient who passed away of complications while in hospital (see the CNA report). Some doubt is raised over the availability of blood supply but I did not think it likely. There appears to be some misunderstanding and we don't know all that transpired and who knows what was said to the poor family.

Underlying the incident is the fact that blood stocks are almost always low in Singapore - right now, in fact, our stocks are low for A and B blood groups, and very low for AB and O blood groups; see DonorWeb:

12 units of blood/hour/day needed
HSA states that "Every hour of the day, 12 units of blood are consumed." Now with blood stocks almost ALWAYS low, every variation affects blood stocks critically. A single disaster can affect our national supply and result in the postponement of non-critical surgery.

But people will respond in a clearly identifiable disaster - many came forward during the collapse of the Hotel New World. An epidemic that results in blood-demanding treatment may be more difficult to recruit donation. Even worse, with such a small poll of regular volunteer blood donors, festive periods, Ramadan and the monsoon see an appreciable decline in donations.

These days Red Cross has been quite good about stepping up publicity to counter this natural decline. They have told me they hate stormy weather and once enticed donors with free umbrellas - an idea borrowed from Giordano!

Healthy? Donate twice a year.
So if you are healthy, consider donating at least twice a year - the maximum is four times. It'll really help. Women make up 30% of donors, and only 5% of youth (16-25) are donating. So Red Cross has tried, over the years, to produce specific advertising to increase the proportion of volunteer donors from these groups.

I had waited until I was 18 *sheepish* before I donated for I didn't know you could donate at 16 with your parent's consent. One RGS student I met during a project drive by her fellow-students had already donated twice!

Want to but can't donate!
Besides once you get older, you may lose your ability to donate once you encounter medical problems like high blood pressure or diabetes etc. So get going when young; that 95% of youth who haven't started pose a great potential, slurp!

Many of my friends donate, and just as many seem to have problems! These are unable due to a medical history, collapsing veins, drug-treatment, had travelled to Europe at the wrong time, were false positive for some disease andd can't shake that off their record. The list goes on! I myself can't donate platelets, which is really time-consuming but my count is simply too low and they aborted my second donation after the lab results confirmed it.

I also have friends with low blood density who actually increase the iron content in their diet weeks before a blood donation. However, the minimum requirement just got increased to 12.5g/dL so Ladybug is really upset. That pretty much rules her out these days! My blood is really thick and she gazed at in admiration, almost hungrily once after I had crashed badly off my bike in Pulau Ubin

Accessibility and motivation
One of the problems some friends have is with accessibility. Although the HSA Blood Bank is just next to Outram MRT and whole blood donation takes an hour in total, it takes some kind of motivation to go down regularly.

My father used to donate and I admired those names of Champion Donors on the wall. As a biologist I thought it was such a neat idea, so how could I resist? I am not sure how Oi Yee started but some in her age group started during the tragic Spyros fire and kept it up. Ladybug is simply community-spirited, she got her organ donor card years before me.

The other hope is that a mobile drives (check this calendar) might appear near you - the co-organisers sometimes try to give out goodies to entice newbies and my father used to get lots of stuff, even a portable fan once that I used in campus! I never got anything until a Red Cross staff found out - I am now a proud owner of a regular donor cap!

Well NTU RED Cross decided to address this accessibility problem one step further and organised the first ever Orchard Road blood donation exercise in 2004. They are still at it, and this year went down to Harbour Front with NUS. And they are appealing to the youth - it was one reason they first started this.

Just do it!
Don't wait for others, especially if they ambivalent and you are motivated. During my undergraduate days, I tried to "bring a friend" each time I went. Though these were the willing individuals, I had little confidence any returned without me, and the effort of arranging a common free time was affecting my regularity. Since I wasn't good at getting people organised then, I concentrated on ensuring that I went down every quarter at least. That way I've managed 93 donations so far and counting. Other committed donors I know do the same.

So go to a mobile donation or to the Blood Centre yourself. The staff are nice and will make you feel welcome. I know them well and look forwad to seeing them. After so many years, I actually see them more often (four times a year) than some of my best friends!

Interestingly, the day before National Day, Wed 8th August 2007: 11:00 am - 5:00 pm, a mobile drive is being held at SMRT Corporation Ltd - Changi Airport MRT Station, Mezzanine Level. Nice way to celebrate our nation's birthday!

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Posted at 4:05PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | , .