Twenty-three dedicated voluntary blood donors have been publicly recognised and celebrated for the immeasurable contributions they continue to make towards saving lives year after year.
The individuals, who were selected based on their “frequency and reliability” in donating blood, were celebrated during an award ceremony last week Friday, at the Kirani James Athletic and Football Stadium, coinciding with the annual observance of the World Blood Donors Day, on June 14.
The award ceremony was attended by top civil servants, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) George Mitchell, along with Permanent Secretaries in the Ministries of Education and Health, Pauline Peters and Jacinta Joseph, who assisted with the award presentations.
Nurse Keren Jolly, who has been almost single-handedly heading the Blood Donors Unit at the St. George’s General Hospital for the last 10 years, thanked each donor for their commitment to donating blood whenever called upon.
In presenting an update on the operations of the Blood Bank, Nurse Jolly spoke of increased challenges since receiving the Mobile Blood Bank Unit, which was donated by the United Kingdom-based Grenada Voluntary Hospital Committee in April 2017, as she still does not have the necessary human capacity or technical staff to carry out the work.
“Already we had a shortage of staff without the mobile blood bank and now that we have the mobile blood bank the staffing challenges have increased. We don’t only need a nurse, and phlebotomist, but also, we don’t have a designated driver for the Blood Mobile Unit,” the nurse told the large gathering who attended the award ceremony.
THE NEW TODAY understands that Health Minister Nicholas Steele along with some other previous Permanent Secretaries in Health have failed to fulfill their promises made over the years to address the manpower shortage within the Blood Bank unit.
Speaking with this newspaper via telephone on Monday, Nurse Jolly, said Denson Charles, who currently drives the blood mobile unit when needed, is employed as an ambulance driver at the hospital and would usually assist in driving the blood mobile unit when needed, in addition to the execution of his normal duties.
“So, if we have to go out, he (Denson) would volunteer some of his own time to go out on the blood drive,” she said, noting that they only go out about “once monthly on average, due to the limited staff”.
“…If we had staffing, maybe, we would have gone out once a week to the different areas to get blood”, she added.
Charles, who is a blood donor himself, was one of the 23 persons recognised and awarded for his extra effort, in taking time off to help Nurse Jolly on blood drives when needed.
Notably, a special award, compliments Huggins Distribution Centre, was presented to Calvin Glaud, a form 4 Wesley College student, who became a blood donor earlier this year.
According to Nurse Jolly, the secondary school student, who walked into the Blood Donors Unit at the General Hospital and expressed interest in donating his blood towards saving lives, had to seek permission from his parents to become a blood donor.
He has donated blood twice since and was awarded a basket of goodies for his bravery.
Currently, approximately 250 persons are registered as voluntary blood donors; however, Nurse Jolly said only “150 are active donors.”
World Blood Donor Day was celebrated this year under the theme: “Be there for someone else. Give blood. Save lives.”