Ministry of Health starts drive to boost hospital’s blood bank

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With the blood bank at the Mount St John’s Medical Centre (MSJMC) hovering at critically low levels, the Ministry of Health expects that its newly commissioned mobile blood unit will better facilitate donations of the life sustaining substance.
The mobile unit will provide an avenue for residents across the island to donate blood in a safe and secure environment without compromising the quality of the supply.
Speaking during a radio interview ahead of the launch yesterday – Blood Donor Day — Chief Medical Officer Dr Rhonda Sealey Thomas explained that the current stock at the  blood bank is nowhere near what it should be.
“On average, the MSJMC would have 20 to 25 units in stock,” the CMO said, adding that the blood bank has the capacity to store up to 300 units of blood.

The blood mobile unit is expected to make donating blood a lot easier. (Photos by Theresa Gordon)

However,  to meet the needs of the population the ministry would like to see about 100 to 120 units in stock, on an average daily basis.
Health Minister Molwyn Joseph told those in the audience at the 39ers Square on lower High Street for the actual launch, that the mobile unit will be fulfilling a critical need and it is an extension of his government’s effort to improve the delivery of health care in Antigua.
“When I hear on the radio that there is an urgent need for blood and they invite the public to come out and give blood, it offends my sensibilities. I do not think that any country that’s worth its salt should depend on voluntary contributions at the time of a crisis,” the minister said.
“That does not represent good management of the health care system, so I set out to change that. This unit is not here by accident,” he declared.
Recently, the family of an accident victim had to resort to sourcing blood from overseas for their relative to undergo life-saving surgery as the hospital was without O-negative blood.
Joseph said the new unit will be available to public and private agencies who may wish to organise blood drives.
This will be done in coordination with Club Lyfe — an entity created by the Red Cross to assist in boosting the hospital’s blood bank.
Red Cross Youth and Volunteer Manager, Michael Joseph said the unit will reduce the task of planning a blood drive, while at the same time, increasing the number of exercises on their calendar.
Immediately after the launch, the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with MSJMC, and Club Lyfe hosted a blood donation drive to mark the worldwide observation of Blood Donor Day.
The National Health Services in London gifted the country with the mobile blood unit, and Antigua & Barbuda’s High Commiss-ioner to London, Karen-Mae Hill was instrumental in sourcing the valuable donation.

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