To ensure adequacy in blood supply for 105 million Filipinos, especially during man-made and natural disasters, one million blood units should be available annually. Unfortunately, the closest the Philippines has ever got to this target is 930,000 units, which was collected in 2016.

As of June 2017, only 486,500 units – 285,506 from the Department of Health and local government units and 201,000 units from the Philippine Red Cross – has been available.

While the Health department has a monthly projection of how much blood is needed and has stock good for one week. But when disasters such as the Surigao and Ormoc earthquakes and the Marawi siege happen, there is an increase in demand and a call is made for more donations..

There is danger of increased fatalities if more disasters that will require blood units occur and supply is insufficient.

So for National Blood Donors’ Month celebrated every July, more people are being encouraged to donate blood voluntarily, not only for its health benefits but more importantly to help save more lives should there be a need for it.

The DOH hopes its multiple campaigns to raise awareness about blood donation can help close the gap and for the country to have a steady supply in case of emergencies.

Doing a good deed

“The campaign outlines the role of every person in helping others in emergency situations by giving the valuable gift of blood,” Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said during the kick-off of the Blood Donors’ Month celebration.

She said they want to focus on the importance of giving blood regularly so that blood stock is sufficient when emergencies, similar to the earthquakes and bloody fighting, arise.

In particular, the health agency is aiming for a community of blood donors who donate blood voluntarily without remuneration all year round, with emphasis on the donor’s well-being.

Secretary Ubial, who in the past has needed and received blood, said donating blood improves an individual’s outlook in life because of the simple fact that he has been able to save another’s human being’s life.

She herself donates blood twice a year. Aside from altruistic reasons, there are also physical benefits and free check-ups that are part of blood donation.

Ideal blood donors

For persons interested in becoming a blood donor, the basic requirements include a weight of at least 50 kgs, a pulse rate between 60 and 100 beats per minute, blood pressure ranging from 90 to 160 systolic and 60 to 100 diastolic, and a hemoglobin count of 125g/l. A potential donor must also be at least 18 years of age.
It is best to refrain from consuming alcohol 24 hours before going through with the blood letting activity.

Adequate blood supply is necessary for people who suffer from severe blood loss, leukemia, hemophilia and trauma, as well as those undergoing transplant and mothers who have birth complications.

Every unit of blood donated can save multiple lives as blood is separated into three components, each for a specific need.

Those willing to help save a life through blood donation can either visit the Philippine Blood Center in Quezon City, or the Philippine Red Cross, local government units and non-government organizations, aside from DOH-operated hospitals.

What to expect

Prior to giving blood, a person’s health history will be taken and pre-donation education and counseling by trained professional staff will be given. A physician will also examine the potential donor for clearance.

A small blood sample to help determine blood type and hemoglobin level will be extracted initially. The screening and selection procedures usually take between 10 and 15 minutes, according to the National Voluntary Blood Service Program (NVBSP), which leads the programme.

The actual extraction usually takes about 15 minutes, where a phlebotomist handles the procedure. Donors are told to rest for 10 minutes after blood-letting, and are provided with snacks and drinks to help restore equilibrium.

Usually, blood collected is 450 ml, depending on the donor’s weight. It is important to note that after 24 hours, the amount of blood taken will be completely replaced.

Calling more women

More men than women donate blood on a regular basis. But Secretary Ubial stressed that blood donation is not restricted to men.

“We know that men are now considered regular blood donors but we want to expand the donation pool to include women.” She said. With more women participating, the country may be able to reach its target supply of one percent of the population.

Health chief Paulyn Ubial is encouraging more women to become blood donors
Health chief Paulyn Ubial is encouraging more women to become blood donors

DOH records show that only less than a fourth (23 percent) of donors are women who contribute to the blood collected nationally.

To encourage more women to also give blood on a regular basis, the NVBSP created a 30-second public service announcement featuring Miss Earth winners.

The NBSP said those who wish to donate blood regularly can do so every 12 weeks or three months. The gap is to allow the body to restore its iron supply.
Secretary Ubial exhorted Filipinos to support blood donation so that the country will have a substantial blood supply for emergencies.

“The support of all sectors is imperative in establishing blood donation programmes to promptly respond to the growing blood demand during emergencies,” the Health chief said.

“Let us donate blood regularly and voluntarily, and make blood donation a way of life.”

Present during the kick-off ceremonies were representatives from Blood Galloners & Dugong Pinoy Association, Inc., DR Remedios Ong, board member of the Philippine Blood Coordinating Council, Atty Oscar Palabyab, Secretary General of the Philippine Red Cross, and winners of the Miss Earth beauth pageant. MIMS

Read more:

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PH Red Cross appeals for donation for Marawi victims
Quezon City joins ‘Type ng Bayan’ blood-typing programme