Youth Group encourages blood donations amid continued shortages

Health, Youth & Gender Advocate Kadeem Joseph & Chief of Operations- Generation Y at The Halo Foundation, Michael Joseph (file photos)
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By Carlena Knight

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As the world celebrated World Blood Donor Day yesterday, members of the Halo Foundation Gen-Y group continued to encourage persons to donate. 

World Blood Donor Day takes place on June 14 each year in the hopes of raising global awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products for transfusion and of the critical contribution voluntary, unpaid blood donors make to national health systems. 

Health, Youth & Gender Advocate Kadeem Joseph spoke on the importance of blood donations overall and even more specifically for those uncommon blood types like A-, B-, O- and AB-. 

“The world has slowed down in such a drastic sense because of the Covid-19 pandemic but what hasn’t stopped is the need for blood. We always need blood. I am sure persons would remember listening to this programme and other programmes, or looking at social media and seeing individuals continuously asking persons to donate blood because a relative has to have surgery or something of that sort, so we need to continue to donate to sustain the lives of those in greatest need,” Joseph said while speaking on the Observer AM show on Monday. 

He went on to dispel rumours that persons with non-communicable diseases cannot donate blood. He says once these persons remain healthy and after consulting with medical officials then you are free to do so. 

This, he added is the same case for vaccinated persons as well.

“So, too, you can donate if you have been vaccinated. I think the protocol right now is to wait at least three days to see if you will have a reaction to the vaccine because we would not want you to donate during a time where you are already ill or feeling unwell. So, we ask you to wait so that you are not compounding a negative situation. If you are healthy and you feel well more than likely than not you are able to donate,” he explained. 

In an effort to bring awareness to this issue, the Halo Foundation’s Gen-Y held a blood donation initiative dubbed 4×12 life which challenged persons to commit to donating blood four different times during a 12-month period.

The Chief of Operations at The Halo Foundation’s Gen-Y, Michael Joseph also weighed in on the conversation, adding that despite there being an increase in donations when drives are held, the need still exists for voluntary donations by persons all year round.

He added that there is still a major challenge where that is concerned as the demand for blood always outweighs the donations in the country. 

“You know, WHO [World Health Organization] speaks to this that if a country is to be sustainable with blood donations, at least 1 percent of the population must be regular voluntary donors. That just simply means 1,000 people out of Antigua need to say every year ‘I am going to make one or two donations to the blood bank’, but that is where we are finding the challenge,” he shared.

“For the many years I have been a part of blood donations I get more calls for people asking to find blood donors than for people who call and say I am going to donate, which is a weird phenomenon because I am not sure how persons expect blood to be available if they themselves do not contribute … I hope that in my lifetime, we will see that transition in Antigua and Barbuda with these appeals being a thing of the past,” he added. 

For 2021, the World Blood Donor Day slogan is “Give blood and keep the world beating”.  

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