THE National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS), in a bid to boost blood collection, is strengthening its collection sites and expanding the programme to educational institutions.
Delivering the keynote address at the commissioning of a mobile collection unit at the NBTS head office on Slipe Road in Kingston on Wednesday, Chief Medical Officer Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie said the school collection initiative is targeting persons 17 years and older in secondary and tertiary institutions.
“These young people are engaged to not only donate blood but to become voluntary donors,” she said, noting that four educational institutions have already been visited and 85 units of blood collected.
“This year the programme will be expanded to 20 high schools and five universities and teachers’ colleges, with the aim of collecting 600 units of blood and increasing the database of voluntary donors. We invite schools to join us on this journey of saving lives,” the CMO said.
The day was observed as World Blood Donor Day, and Dr Bisasor-McKenzie said that to further meet the needs of the population they will be identifying an additional “five strategic collection sites” to increase the agency’s number to 16, with special efforts in the parishes of St Mary, Portland, and St Thomas, which are underserved.
“Not only are we opening new sites, we are [also] making it more accessible for persons to donate blood â€” and this year we will be adding two mobile units,” she said.
The agency has 11 blood collection sites, and persons between 17 and 60 years who are in good health are being invited to become legacy donors.
Outfitted with four blood-collection stations, the mobile unit will be manned by seven staff members. Organisations and individuals can contact the NBTS to arrange special collection drives.
The NBTS is an agency under the Ministry of Health and Wellness, and is responsible for the safe collection and storage of blood for transfusion purposes.