Bank wants your blood

The Cayman Islands Blood Bank has a
mission- to find 1,000 people to donate their blood this year.

At the start of the year, the bank
had 770 registered blood donors and since then, another 103 have signed up to
roll up their sleeves, have a needle stuck in their vein and their blood drawn
to help their fellow man.

“We’re getting there,” said medical
technologist Judith Clarke, of the blood bank’s efforts to attract 1,000
donors. “However, it’s sometimes hard to retain donors, due to illness or
repatriation. By the end of the year, that new 103 could have been eaten up.”

Earlier this month, there was a
need for O-positive blood, but right now, there is no shortage of any
particular type, Ms Clarke said, but she acknowledged that this situation could
change in an instant.

“We’re OK right now, but that could
change tonight,” she said pragmatically.

A major traffic accident, a
devastating hurricane or boating catastrophe could lead to a shortage of supply
of any blood type.

In the event of a disaster, the
Blood Bank pulls out all the stops to track down a particular blood type,
contacting donors on its books and inviting them to donate blood.

In the meantime, new donors are
always welcome. They can simply make an appointment and give blood at the blood
bank at the hospital, or could organise a blood drive at their place of work.

“We could do with some more
corporate help,” said Ms Clarke, although recent blood drives organised by the
Ritz Carlton and Rotaract Blue Cayman has brought new donors to the bank.

One element that Ms Clarke believes
could make it easier to attract new donors would be a mobile service, but the
bank does not have enough money to do that at the moment.

“It would be really helpful for us.
People would not have to leave their work to donate blood. If they’re in town,
they wouldn’t have to give up their parking space for a few minutes and then
lose it. It would make a big difference,” she said.

The blood bank saw a dip in donors
due to the advent of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, or CJD, also known as Mad Cow
Disease. Anyone who has spent a cumulative time of three months or more in the
UK from 1 January, 1980, through December 31, 1996, is not eligible to give
blood.

“There is still no test for CJD,”
Ms Clarke said. “We’ve seen an impact from that. We used to have a lot of
British people who were regular donors here and they have had to stop. They
keep asking if the restrictions have been lifted, but they’re still in place.”

A recent donor to the Blood Bank is
Health Minister Mark Scotland. He was accompanied by his colleague Dwayne
Seymour who signed up as a new donor in June to mark World Blood Day.

Anyone who wishes to donate blood
should make an appointment by calling 244-2669 or 244-2674.

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