Stepping up when it counts


Keep it coming: A worker at the blood bank stacking blood bags at its centre. Donors are encouraged to donate regularly as it is in constant demand. — ONG SOON HIN/The Star

PETALING JAYA: After a cry for help from the National Blood Centre about a critical level of blood supply, Malaysians came out in droves during the last weekend to donate blood.

National Blood Centre transfusion specialist Dr Norasrina Ishak said that aided by media publicity on the situation, they were able to replenish the blood stock to a sufficient level.

“Because of the Covid-19 pandemic people are scared to donate blood but after our plea many came out, ” she told The Star.

Last week, the centre issued a plea for blood donations as blood type O reached very low levels while types A and B were low.

Dr Norasrina said it was better for donations to be on a constant basis.

“What we are seeing and encouraging now is for first-time donors who donate blood to make blood donation a routine, ” she said, adding that individuals could donate blood every three months.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the centre needed an average of 12,000 to 15,000 donations a month, with 80% of them from mobile blood donation campaigns.

Because of the rising Covid-19 cases, many of these campaigns had to be cancelled.

On average, hospitals nationwide require about 2,000 units of blood every day. As elective operations are now going on in hospitals, the demand for blood is back to normal.

Based on data, Dr Norasrina said about 2.3% of the Malaysian population donated blood.

“We hope more Malaysians will come forward to become blood donors and make it a culture. That one bag of blood can save three lives, ” she said.

As an essential service, people can still donate blood during the movement control order period at fixed donation sites for the centre as well as in the respective state hospital blood banks.

Yeow Boon Siang, 40, admitted that he was worried about donating blood when the pandemic started but went out in April last year when the centre was short of blood.

He said that while there was some fear, he did take extra precaution.

Yeow has donated blood and platelets 95 times, and is aiming to make it 100 by the middle of the year.

“For me, it is a personal mission to give back to society. I have met many heroes at blood banks, among them was an old uncle who donated blood more than 200 times.

“People like him inspired me. I always felt good after donating as I might have saved a life, ” he said.

Those who want to donate blood during the MCO period should bring along their donation book or card, a form for blood donation or get an appointment slip for the blood donation.

For more information on blood donation, visit www.pdn.gov.my or call 03-2613 2777.

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