SOS call for young blood


THE young generation has been urged to step forward to as it could save the life of someone in need of a specific blood type.

Penang Hospital transfusion medicine specialist Dr Anizah Arshad is appealing to young people to come forward and give blood as most donors at present are from the ageing community.

“As these existing donors grow older, health complications have forced them to donate blood less frequently.

“We need to recruit younger people who can replace these mature donors, ” she said at Penang Hospital’s blood bank recently.

Dr Anizah said besides being a noble act, donating blood has been known to make one feel healthier “as your body creates new blood cells”.

She said when Covid-19 hit last year, there was a struggle as donors were afraid to visit the hospital because Covid-19 patients were being treated there.

“So, we decided to hold blood donation drives outside the hospital premises.

“Then, during the movement control order, we provided online forms for donors to travel outside of their district or state as we have donors with specific blood types staying in neighbouring states.

“Now, donors are slowly coming back to give blood at the hospital, ” she said.

To cater for blood transfusions, Dr Anizah said Penang Hospital needed to stock up about 80 to 100 bags of blood per day.

“On an average, both government and private hospitals in Penang require between 800 and 1,000 bags of blood per week.”

“To ensure a life is not lost due to lack of blood, supply is replenished and donors with rare blood types in our registry are contacted personally, when needed.

“We do not let it go to zero, if we are short on blood. We call other blood banks starting with the one at Seberang Jaya Hospital and those in neighbouring states.

“When necessary, we also reach out via social media if we are low on a specific blood type, ” she said.

Dr Anizah said there are patients who require blood transfusion weekly or as often as needed, based on their diagnosis.

“We collect two types of blood, ‘whole blood’ and ‘apheresis’.

“Whole blood can be processed into three components - red cells, platelets and plasma.

“Red cells are for those who need blood transfusion, while platelets are to help stop bleeding like in dengue cases and plasma for blood clotting and to stop bleeding.

“Apheresis is the collection of a specific blood component. Here, we collect platelets through an apheresis machine, ” she said.

Penang Hospital helps other district hospitals with their supply of blood as they don’t have the means to collect sufficient blood supply on their own.

“We supply blood to the government hospitals in Kepala Batas, Bukit Mertajam, Sungai Bakap and Balik Pulau.

“When needed, we supply some to private hospitals as well.

“To ensure we have enough blood, besides getting supply from walk-in donors at the hospital, we also run mobile blood donation drives daily.

“We collaborate with other organisers and create mobile blood banks.

“To cater to their timing, we even hold donation drives at night, like during the Ramadan month, ” she said.

Penang Hospital blood bank is open from Monday to Friday from 7.30am to 5.30pm.

Visit the ‘Derma Darah Penang’ Facebook page for updates on their mobile blood donation drives.

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