Red Cross needs more blood donors

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Friday, August 1, 2014


WITH the looming scarcity of blood supply in the city, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) here has called on eligible donors in the region to contribute to prevent the impending blood shortage needed for transfusions.

Dr. Myra Yee, PRC-Mindanao blood blank manager, said there is a relatively increasing demand of blood banks in city.

The World Health Organization (WHO) sets a minimum requirement of blood bank at least a percent of the entire population in the area.

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"Cagayan de Oro has over 800,000 residents so 8,000 blood bags have to be collected each year. However, due to an increasing demand, we were able to serve utmost 19,000 bags last year," Yee said.

Cardiac, renal centers

Cagayan de Oro is the only city among the neighboring cities that has cardiac and renal centers. Most likely, patients who need blood from the cities of Iligan and Gingoog, in the provinces of Bukidnon and Lanao del Norte and other parts of Northern Mindanao are transported to Cagayan de Oro, she said.

The growing number of road accidents can also contribute to the worse blood bank condition in the city, Yee added.

According to the Department of Health (DOH), road accident is the 6th leading cause of death in the region for the year 2013.

Eligible donors

With the sensitivity and risks of blood transfusion, Yee is calling all possible blood donors who are "honest and volitional."

"It's important the donors will lay down honest medical and sexual history to protect the lives of blood bank recipients," she noted.

The PRC has been careful in terms of blood donations since it may trigger the spread of diseases that can be contracted during transfusion.

"There is no such thing as 100 per cent safe blood. Our testing methodology at Red Cross lasts up to five to six hours because we examine all the viruses possibly lingering in the blood," said Yee.

The PRC disclosed that 5 percent of their donations is infected by hepatitis B and C, human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS), malaria and syphilis.

However, Yee said these patients or donors are confidentially treated.

"The worst part is, virus-infected blood cannot be detected immediately because of the window period. In the Philippines, the average window period ranges from 6 months to one year," she said.

Window period is the span of time when viruses in blood cannot be detected.

Under the Republic Act 7719 or the National Blood Services Act, the DOH and the PRC are prohibited to release blood to the banks that are "incompletely checked."

Yee, clarified "the Red Cross is not as a testing facility."

Blood bank closure

The Supreme Court in 1994 ordered the closure of commercial banks across the country "to protect the interest of the patients" to prevent proliferation of dubious private blood bank centers.

However, Yee pointed out it is difficult for PRC and DOH to carry on this responsibility as the only accredited blood bank centers considering the region’s fast-growing population.

Lawyer Antonio Soriano, PRC-Misamis Oriental chair, said there are still commercial laboratories and hospitals allowed to conduct blood examination.

Aside from the PRC and DOH, blood assistance program can also be availed from the province of Misamis Oriental, local government of Cagayan de Oro and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO).

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on August 01, 2014.

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