World Blood Donor Day was observed in Grenada last week Wednesday with 25 dedicated blood donors being recognised for their contributions in helping to save lives.
The occasion was a ceremony held last week Wednesday at the National Stadium at Queen’s Park attended by top civil servants including Permanent Secretary in the Department of Public Administration (DPA), Anna Brizan, and Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. George Mitchell.
World Blood Donors Day is commemorated annually by countries around the world on June 14 in an effort to raise greater awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products and also to thank blood donors for the life-saving gifts of blood.
In presenting an update on the operations of the Blood Bank, Nurse Karen Jolly lamented the fact that she still does not have the necessary equipment, human capacity or technical staff to carry out the work of the Blood Bank.
Nurse Jolly has over the years been working almost singlehandedly in the unit to take blood from donors despite many pledges from government officials to increase the number of personnel at the unit.
She pointed to the many difficulties faced with the task of providing blood for the entire tri-island state of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.
“We still do not have the necessary resources to expand the voluntary donor base such as a blood mobile unit, finance to conduct ads and for transportation, or the necessary human and technical staff, she said.
The nurse stated that despite of complaints made last year and this year “things remain the same…to this day nothing has been done”.
She made comparisons to neighbouring St. Lucia and St. Vincent, which has a minimum of “6 personnel working in its department including a resident doctor (while) Grenada has only one.”
According to Nurse Jolly, the lack of “an effective national donor data base and information management system” is making it a “very tedious and time consuming” task to go through the cards manually in search of a specific donor(s).
On a good note, Nurse Jolly disclosed that plans are afoot with stakeholders in the development of “a national emergency preparedness response plan for Grenada.”
Permanent Secretary Anna Brizan who appeared to be stunned at the disclosure gave assurances that some of the challenges highlighted will be addressed within a short period.
“Along with (Chief Medical Officer) Dr. George Mitchell, I assure you that some of those organisational structural problems, they are solvable. They are not too humongous or enormous to find quick solutions,” PS Brizan said.
“Something as simple as data management can easily be solved,” she added.
Nurse Jolly was one of the 25 persons recognised and awarded for her hard work with the Blood Bank.
She was presented with a surprise token of appreciation and an undisclosed financial contribution to assist with the operations of the Blood Bank.
One of the Blood recipients, 25-year old Cindy Nedd told the gathering about her Rheumatic heart disease and Sickle Cell conditions that require her to receive blood at least 4 times a year.
She said although it is very “frustrating” and at times she is so weak that she sleeps until midday, she still never gives up.
Nedd expressed gratitude to the donors who have assisted her over the years.
“To me, you are like my superheroes,” she told the donors as she urged them to continue giving blood and helping to save lives.
The 2017 World Blood Donor Day was recognised under the theme: “What can we do, give blood, give now, give often”.