Youth – Source of Hope for Much-needed Volunteer Blood Donation Program
A Silliman University study encourages the establishment of community-based blood donation programs powered by non-paid youth volunteers to help solve the problem of insufficient and unsafe blood supply for health care in this country.
Kim G. Sarong, a medical technologist and college instructor at the SU Institute of Clinical Laboratory Sciences, said persons 18 to 22 years old are encouraged to participate in the program because presumably they are less prone to suffer from communicable and non-communicable diseases.
Sarong presented the results of his study at a national scientific conference of the Philippine Population Association held at Silliman University last week, where dozens of researchers from here and abroad read paper presentation. Sarong’s study was entitled “Community Based Blood Donation Program: Sustainability and Local Capacity Building Blood Donation among Youth…”
Sarong observed that there has been an increase of deaths in recent years due to shortage of blood supply. This coincides with “the alarming cases of dengue in (Negros Oriental) wherein family members were having a hard time looking for potential donors.” He said these families ended up opting for commercial blood donors.
Aside from being expensive, blood from commercial donors carry health risks such as incompatibility, contraction of blood-transfusion transmissible diseases such as AIDS, Hepatitis B and C, malaria, and syphilis, according to one report by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration cited by Sarong.
The report pointed out that commercial blood donors carry more risks because they tend to lie about their health condition in their desperation for cash.
The researcher said screening for eligible blood donors is now stricter precisely due to reports of such risks.
Sarong said that as a medical technologist he has witnessed the problem of lack of blood supply. “My heart breaks every time I see significant others going to blood banks searching for donors and ending up zero at the end of the day, when lives are supposed to be extended and saved,” he said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that globally 108 million blood donations are collected annually; 50% of these come from developed countries. WHO also reported that 99% of half a million women who die each year during pregnancy and childbirth due to hemorrhage invariably required blood transfusions.
In the Philippines, the Philippine Red Cross can only supply 25% to 30% of the country’s blood supply requirements.
Sarong studied potential young donors from a rural town (Ayungon, Negros Orientl), where he surveyed 76 respondents.
He wanted to know the attitude of young people about blood donation, their history of blood donation, and the reasons for their donating or not donating blood.
He found that more than 80% of all respondents expressed a positive attitude towards blood donation. They said that it is good (85%) and that the best source are voluntary donors (81%).
He also found that 86% are willing to donate blood, especially if the patient is a family member, a relative, or a friend (88%).
Most of the respondents, however, had not experienced donating blood (85%). Asked why this was so, the most common answer was lack of awareness, fear of needles, poor knowledge about blood donation, and willingness to donate only to family members and friends.
Sarong recommended that there should be more awareness campaigns about existing donation programs, offering incentives for blood donation, and creating more opportunities through regular blood donation programs.
He also suggested to draw up a list of potential donors and organizing blood donation camps.—(Royanni Miel M. Hontucan and Celia E. Acedo, SU Research and Environmental News Service)