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Blood highs and lows

Aids, festivals and tragedy affect level of donations

By KONG SOOK CHIN

FESTIVALS, tragedy and fear of disease - these are some of the factors which explain the highs and lows of blood donation in Singapore.

The peak in blood donations in March, for example, shows how thousands of people responded to the appeal for blood after the Hotel New World collapsed on March 15, leaving 33 dead and many of the 17 survivors injured.

There were 6,533 blood donations that month, 45 per cent more than the number in February and 52 per cent more that in January.

A Singapore Blood Transfusion Service spokesman said a fear of Aids affected blood donations last year. The number fell after the Health Ministry announced in April last year that three carriers of the Aids virus had been identified In Singapore.

New needles used

Some donors were afraid because one of the ways in which the deadly Aids virus spreads Is through the re-use of contaminated needles.

Happily, donations picked up in the second half of the year, after a ministry assurance that Singapore blood donors were safe because a new needle was used for every donor.

The lowest number of donations last year was recorded in February and the spokesman explained that it was probably because the Lunar New Year fell on Feb 20.

She explained that Chinese donors are generally reluctant to donate blood or go to hospitals during the festive season.

But they apparently made up for it by donating blood after the festive period - the March 1965 collection of 5,336 units was 40 per cent more than the February collection.

Another low point last year was in June, coinciding with the Muslim fasting period before Hari Raya Puasa on June 20. There were only 4,272 blood donations.

The Muslim donors were back after their festival, pushing July's donations up to 5,498 units - 28 per cent more than in June.

The highest number of blood donations last year was the December collection of 6,541 units — but it had little to do with the Christmas spirit.

Medical benefits

The spokesman said blood donations are usually higher in December because some donors want to meet the end-of-year deadline to qualify for medical benefits.

Those who give blood twice a year are entitled to free treatment by Government doctors and if rates for government hospital ward charges, she added.

For the years 1982 to 1985, there were more blood donations than transfusions. Last year, for example, 59,308 units of blood were obtained, but only 52,411 units were used.

But the spokesman said yesterday the Blood Bank needed more donations to meet increasing demand and appealed for more donors.

Blood donation trends

Number of packets of blood donated (430 ml per packet)

Chinese New Year

Ramadan (Muslim fasting period)

Year-end rush, possibly to qualify for donor benefits

Chinese New Year

Hotel New World disaster donation appeal

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Acknowledgements[]

This article was archived by Roy Tan.

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