x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Abu Dhabi blood bank appeals for more donors

Ramadan: Fewer people give during the holy month and summer because of the strain of fasting and the heat but medics hope many will step up.

A blood donor contributes at Dubai Blood Donation Centre. Residents with negative blood types are particularly encouraged to give. Pawan Singh / The National
A blood donor contributes at Dubai Blood Donation Centre. Residents with negative blood types are particularly encouraged to give. Pawan Singh / The National

ABU DHABI // Residents are being urged to keep giving blood during Ramadan, when donation levels traditionally fall.

Those fasting can still donate after iftar, from 8.30pm, at Abu Dhabi Blood Bank, while non-Muslims can give during the day.

Dr Ahmad Al Emam, a haematologist at the blood bank, acknowledged the difficulties of donating during the holy month, but said they were trying to reach as many people as possible.

"In Ramadan, it can be difficult, especially in summer when its hot outside," the doctor said. "But we're going to mosques in the evenings, where people can donate blood during prayers.

"We're asking all healthy people who want to save a life to support this noble cause during the month of Ramadan, and for the rest of the year, too. It's not the duty of the sick patients to look for a donor. It's the duty of healthy people to care, and to help them.

"By donating, you're saving a life."

Abu Dhabi Blood Bank visits organisations, universities and public venues to raise awareness of the importance of donating.

They also collect from donors in more isolated areas of Abu Dhabi, such as Dalma Island, Das Island and Al Rahba, who might have difficulties reaching the city at night.

With the help of more than 200 organisations, the bank sets up mobile donation units for five days, up to three times a year, at each location.

Dr Al Emam said they were trying to set up units at malls and cooperatives during Ramadan so people could donate while they shopped. The move is subject to approval from the venues.

"Luckily, blood consumption is lower at the start of Ramadan because patients postpone operations and such," Dr Al Emam said. "But we need to prepare for Eid, when people are more active and prone to accidents, and operations start taking place again."

He said less than 15 per cent of people had negative blood types, so they always needed negative blood.

"We strongly urge people with rarer, negative blood types, like O-, A-, B- and AB-, to donate," he said.

"When our stock requirements fall below critical limits, we first call our regular blood donors and see if they can help out.

"Anyone who registers with us can become a regular donor. Men can donate up to five times a year and women up to three.

"Some of our donors have donated blood for 20 years, which means we probably have some people who have donated up to 50 or 60 times."

The blood bank collects about 120 units daily and supplies 15,000 units, or 6,750 litres, a year to private and public hospitals across the country.

Each unit can be separated into components, including red blood cells, plasma, platelets and cryoprecipitates.

Each unit can also save up to three lives, according to the Health Authority Abu Dhabi.

It is used to replace blood lost in accidents, during organ transplants and major surgery, and in treatment for cancer and other diseases.

Abu Dhabi residents interested in donating can find out if they are eligible and where to do give by calling Abu Dhabi Blood Bank on 02 819 1700, or by visiting www.skmc.ae and clicking on "Donate Blood". The bank will be open daily, except Fridays, this month from 8am until about midnight.

Dubai Health Authority's Blood Donation Centre collects 35,000 units of blood annually. To donate there, call 04 219 3221/3389 or visit www.dha.gov.ae.

Residents of other emirates can visit the Ministry of Health website at www.moh.gov.ae for a list of blood banks across the country.

halbustani@thenational.ae