PETALING JAYA: Only 2% to 2.5% of Malaysians donate blood, which is much lower than the goal of 5%, although the situation is better in the Klang Valley where it is 10%.
However, the most trying times for the National Blood Bank (NBB) is during school holidays and festive periods because many people travel elsewhere.
Elective surgeries are usually carried out during the holidays, worsening the cycle of low donations and high use.
According to NBB deputy director (I) Datuk Dr Faraizah Abdul Karim, on average 3,500 units of blood were used in the Klang Valley weekly.
“However, during long public holidays and festival seasons, there’s a shortage,” she said. “We really hope more can donate during the holidays – it’s a tough period.”
She said Malaysians should treat donating blood as a normal part of life, like exercise.
“It’s a mutually beneficial exercise,” she said.
Dr Faraizah explained that there had been cases of cancer or other illnesses being detected in donor blood, thereby alerting people to diseases they never knew they had.
Red blood cells can last for up to 42 days, while platelets only last for five.
On which blood type that was needed most, Dr Faraizah said O was “definitely required” and A was always needed.
Malaysians who donate twice in 12 calendar months can get a free Hepatitis B vaccine shot, while regular donors get free health screenings every six months.
Those who donate more than 50 times are entitled to free outpatient treatment.
Once blood is drawn, it is sent for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV and syphillis screenings.
The blood bank is open from 7.30am to 5.30pm from Monday to Wednesday, 7.30am to 8pm on Thursday and Friday, and 8am to 4pm on weekends.
There is also a schedule available at pdn.gov.my listing the location of various mobile donation centres.