Roy Rajan has become a regular blood donor at the Abu Dhabi Health Services Co (SEHA).
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
June 14 (Tuesday) is “World Blood Donor Day” and the healthy are encouraged to donate in order to save lives. One adult donor from whom as much as 450 milliliters of blood is taken, could save three in 50-50 conditions.
World Health Organization and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, coordinating with 192 national societies worldwide and which work 24/7 to address emergencies and disasters, are appealing for “unpaid volunteer donors;” not only because they have decided that the campaign theme for this year is “Donating Blood as an Act of Solidarity” but more importantly, it has been noted that blood donation has plummeted since the 2020 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
For instance, American Red Cross (ARC) chief medical officer Dr. Pampee Young was quoted in an article posted over the ARC website on January 11, 2022: “While some types of medical care can wait, others (cannot). Hospitals are still seeing accident victims, cancer patients, those with blood disorders like sickle cell disease, and individuals who are seriously ill who all need blood transfusion to live even as Omicron cases surge across the country. We are doing everything we can to increase blood donation to ensure every patient can receive medical treatment without delay, but we cannot do it without more donors. We need the help of the American people.”
In Saudi Arabia and in the 2019 to 2020 comparative study of blood centres in Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, Jizan and Hail, research authors of the “Impact of COVID-19 Blood Donation and Supply: A Multi-Center Cross- Sectional Study from Saudi Arabia,” led by Nora Y. Hakami, concluded that these facilities had either recorded low number of blood donors (Jeddah), were “slightly affected” (Riyadh, Jizan and Dammam), and had increased blood donors (Hail) “due to several reasons such as people awareness, management of donor recruitment campaigns, movements restriction and lockdown measures.”
Meanwhile, from the “Updated Information for Blood Establishments Regarding the COVID-19 Pandemic and Blood Donation” experts of the USA Food and Drug Administration had underscored that all COVID-19 facilities must be free from blood donation procedures. COVID-19 patients are advised to defer their act of charity for at least 10 days from the release date of the positive test. The same rule applies to those suspected with the virus.
On Monday, Al Zahra Hospital (Dubai) Internal Medicine specialist Dr. Abner Abejo said: “People who want to be regular blood donors must be in good health. They should be at least 18 years old. The 2022 theme generally reminds us of the importance in recognizing the values of unpaid blood donation (donors act voluntarily and are therefore not paid in contrast to those compensated and family members who donate as a result of a necessary treatment) in promoting cohesion in communities.”
“Unpaid blood donation ensures that everyone who needs transfusion has access to safe blood. It is already a known fact that volunteer blood donation contributes to enhancing social ties in the community,” he added.
Since 2017, regular blood donor is Burjeel Medical Centers senior marketing executive Roy Rajan whose blood type is of the rare O-Negative and who basically grew up scared of even undergoing medical consultations because of the blood and needles. His mother, Elsy, died unexpectedly 10 months back which led him to continue his advocacy: “After the first donation, SEHA (Abu Dhabi Health Services Corp.) blood bank officials send messages wherever there is shortage or emergency. These messages are touching and give me the encouragement to donate. I go once every three months. Of course, I am still apprehensive because of my fear of needles. I feel dizzy and weak after each donation so the staff keep me under observation for 15 minutes and until I feel better. But I still go to help others.”
“I ensure to keep myself healthy. I play beach volleyball and I do not smoke because I know smoking (spoils) blood quality. Weeks before I go to the center, I monitor my diet and my lifestyle as these have huge impact on blood donation,” said the 34-year-old, relative to Abejo’s statement that all blood donors must be healthy. Rajan feeds and surrounds himself with all positive as well so he could pursue his community service.