Community: A total of 166 people donated blood to observe the 13th World Blood Donor Day at the Bank of Bhutan (BoB) main branch at Chubachu in Thimphu yesterday.

Some 236 volunteers registered for the donation, however, because of reasons like low blood pressure and haemoglobin counts, 70 volunteers were deferred from donating.

The day was observed with the theme “Blood connects us all”, highlighting the importance of the blood donors in saving lives. The health ministry recognised 15 regular donors and 12 donor motivators and organisations for their role in saving lives.

Head of national blood bank at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital, Dr Mahrukh Getshen said that the day was an opportunity to thank the donors for their contribution and also to promote advocacy and awareness on the importance of voluntary blood donations.

“The need for blood is increasing by the day. Recently we’ve been coming across several chronic illnesses like cancers, liver and kidney diseases which takes up maximum blood reserve at the hospitals,” said Dr Mahrukh Getshen. “Therefore, the increasing demand for blood needs to be addressed through community voluntary donation especially from youth as a social responsibility.”

Through various strategies and activities, the country has reached 74 percent voluntary blood donation in 2015. Dr Mahrukh Getshen said that at the Thimphu national referral hospital, 94 percent of the blood reserve was from voluntary donors.

She added that by 2020, the reserve is expected to reach 100 percent through voluntary donations.

Adequate supply and timely availability of blood and blood products that are safe are crucial at hospitals, especially during times of emergencies said Dr Mahrukh Getshen.

“One of the first few thoughts that crosses our minds when we hear about accidents, trauma, disaster, surgery or even hospitalisation of our dear ones is, will my patient require blood and will the blood units be made available by the hospital in time,” said Dr Mahrukh Getshen. “If you volunteer to donate your blood, we will be saving lives without having to be a doctor. This is the satisfaction you’ll receive if you donate blood.”

As a part of the celebration, Blood and Blood Products Regulation of Bhutan and National Guidelines for Blood Donor Assessment and Selection Procedures were also launched.

The two publications included national requirements that blood banks will have to adhere to, to ensure maximum compliance and the guidelines standardising the screening processes during times of donation.

The use of the guidelines and compliance to regulation is expected to ensure quality of blood and its products and also safeguard donor wellbeing.

The celebration also witnessed a campaign to discourage the usage of plastic bags. The ministry along with BoB gave away reusable folding pouches.

Meanwhile, similar campaigns were also conducted at Kanglung Shedra, Trashigang, Dagana BHU I and Phuentsholing.

Younten Tshedup