Letters to the Editor: Blood donors help save lives

Please
allow me space in your publication to extend a heartfelt thank you to the many
persons in our community who responded so willingly and generously to our
appeal for blood donors on Tuesday and whose act of compassion helped to make a
difference at a critical time for another human being.

Tuesday’s
response by our community serves as a positive reminder of the uniqueness of
the Cayman Islands community; made up of individuals with diverse backgrounds
but yet possess a common bond of compassion and care for each other. Each and
every one of you is a testimony and reflection of the true essence of the human
spirit of unselfish love and compassion for each other.

Your
response provides a unique opportunity to publicly say thank you to everyone
who voluntarily gave their blood to save a precious life or those of you who
may have encouraged a family member, colleague or friend to enlist as a blood
donor.

Through
the overwhelming response of the community, we were able to replenish our stock
levels of blood to three days’ supply, which is essential, given the remote
location of our Islands away from large population centres and blood donor
services to readily boost or supplement our stock levels. Additionally, blood
can be stored only for a limited period of time before use. Hence, a large pool
of donors is needed to ensure that blood will always be available, whenever it
is needed.

Maintaining
a strong, continuous voluntary blood donor pool is therefore critical to
ensuring that there is a robust blood supply to meet patients’ needs 365 days a
year, whether their needs are for scheduled treatments or for emergencies. I
therefore strongly urge persons in our community who are eligible to donate
blood, to come forward and register with our blood donor services. The more
regular voluntary donors that are recruited, the safer and more reliable our
blood supply will be.

Based
upon World Health Organization guidelines, a population of our size requires
2,600 donors in order to meet the Islands’ potential need for blood. The Cayman
Islands Blood Bank has so far been able to meet the demand for blood in these
Islands but presently has only 743 active donors – well below the number needed
in order to ensure a safe and adequate supply at all times, and to reduce the
risk of fatalities due to shortage of blood.

I
acknowledge the hard work of the staff of the Blood Bank at the Cayman Islands
Hospital and the mass media for their collective and ongoing partnership and
hard work over the years in raising awareness of blood donation and their
extraordinary efforts this past Tuesday in the midst of the challenges we
faced.

You
are all heroes. Your efforts save lives and I salute you.

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