A total of 336 units of blood were collected and shared between the Princess Margaret Hospital and Doctor’s Hospital Blood Banks during the World Blood Donor Day Blood Drive 2008 sponsored by the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) June 14.

Minister of Health and Social Development Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis said that number represents the largest amount of blood collected in one day in the history of blood banks in The Bahamas – almost tripling the number of units that were collected at last year’s BTC sponsored blood drive.

“This exercise demonstrates that with corporate partnerships, together we can ensure a safe and adequate blood supply for all patients in need,” Dr. Minnis said during a press conference at the Ministry of Health, Friday, June 27.

He added, “Due to the tremendous success of the BTC sponsored World Blood Donor Day Blood Drive, we can boast that at least for the next month, there is sufficient blood for all of the patients in need and some reserves for unforeseen emergencies.

He also explained that BTC is sponsoring the Independence Blood Drive at the Rand Memorial Hospital in Freeport, Grand Bahama.

“Beginning Saturday, July 5, 2008, persons will be able to register for the blood drive and will have the opportunity to donate blood every Saturday in July beginning July 12. This should surely boost that hospital’s blood bank supply tremendously.”

Dr. Minnis said the theme for the 2008 World Blood Donor Day Celebrations was “Giving Blood Regularly” and there were three main objectives.

They were to create wider public awareness of the need for regular blood donation; to promote the fact that regular voluntary unpaid donors are healthy individuals and, thus, are essential to public health systems; and to focus attention on donor health and the quality of donor care.

“The World Blood Donor Day Blood Drive sponsored by BTC successfully addressed the first objective – that is, it created a wider public awareness of the need for regular blood donation,” Dr. Minnis said.

“Current estimates suggest that an adequate blood supply for our country will be achieved by collecting at least 16,000 units of blood per year to meet our health care needs.”

He explained that despite tremendous efforts to improve the supplies, the blood banking system has constantly been in crisis mode because we collect an average of only 5,000 units per year.

Dr. Minnis added that the majority of the blood collected is from replacement donors – those donors who come to give only when a family or friend is in need.

“Donated blood plays a critical role in surgery and emergency care. A unit of donated blood could potentially save as many as three lives. Blood, however, can only be stored for 35 days.”