Blood drive banking on youth

It’s a vital national resource, and while local reserves are abundant, in its easily accessible form, it’s in low supply.

The ‘it’ is blood, and attention is focusing on Cayman’s young people in the latest effort to boost reserves at the national blood bank.

Blood donation

UCCI students Samuel Young and Janelle Tibbetts volunteer samples for blood bank medical technicians Michelle Ellison and Christopher Morrisson. Photo: Basia Pioro

‘We have close to 1,000 members in our blood bank pool, but we need more, especially from this demographic,’ said Cayman Blood Donor Services Chair Carl Brown.

The move to involve young people is happening on a number of fronts.

As part of a student-led initiative, the Cayman Islands Hospital’s blood bank, along with the Cayman Islands Blood Donor Services, recently held a blood sample drive at UCCI to help bring the blood donation message to Cayman’s young people.

‘This exercise helps us identify potential donors and gets the word out about the need for donors in Cayman,’ said the Blood Bank’s Judith Clarke.

The event was the brainchild of Student Representative Council President Kerrin Kelly.

‘I think this is a great way to help out in a very specific way as it fits with our desire to get students engaged in the community, and answer a need that is very real,’ she said.

‘We hope people will realize how important it is, and spread the message to their friends and family as well.’

Help is needed. Because of a convergence of unfortunate factors, many past donors are no longer eligible to give blood.

The BSE threat leaves Europeans, who have been a consistent and enthusiastic blood donor group, off the list of potential donors. And a recent malaria outbreak means people who visited Jamaica after 1 October 2006 must wait a full year from their last visit to give blood.

‘We are proud of our reputation as one of the best run blood services in the Caribbean, and we will not back down from these precautions as they are there for the protection of the recipients,’ said Mr. Brown.

‘While losing some of our faithful groups of donors is a real blow to us on one hand, on the other it’s an opportunity for us to reach out and create new, lasting relationships within the Cayman community,’ said Mr. Brown.

He’s hopeful young Caymanians will step up as a matter of civic pride and duty, especially since it is their demographic which is in the most need.

‘Car accidents and other lifestyle occurrences make the younger Caymanian generation the one that needs blood the most, so by donating blood, youth can assist their peers, and maybe even themselves, in a way that’s unique and a real-life lifesaver,’ he said.

Aside from the college outreach, Cayman Blood Donor Services is working with the Youthflex radio programme to spread the blood donation message to Cayman’s young people.

FYI

For more information on donating blood, contact the blood bank at 244-2674.

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