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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.
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
- Archive of "Three in S’pore found with Aids-linked virus", The Straits Times, 10 April 1985
- Archive of "Aids virus: Doctor who 'found it'", The Sunday Times, 14 April 1985
- Archive of "A chance to be ahead in medicine", The Singapore Monitor, 16 April 1985
- Archive of "Aids on ‘must report’ list", The Straits Times, 17 April 1985
- Archive of "Undergrads to be taught about Aids", The Straits Times, 21 April 1885
- Archive of "16 more may be carriers of Aids virus", The Straits Times, 30 April 1985
- Archive of "Aids doctor thanks mum", The Straits Times, 12 May 1985
- Archive of "Special lab to do Aids tests soon", The Straits Times, 18 May 1985
- Archive of "Man with Aids related virus in hospital", The Straits Times, 21 July 1985
- Archive of "Aids carrier leaves hospital", The Straits Times, 28 July 1985
- Archive of "Ministry steps up Aids drive", The Straits Times, 5 September 1985
- Archive of "Singapore ‘first in the world’ to have 100 % screening of donor blood", The Straits Times, 11 September 1985
- Archive of "S’pore-Stanford research tie-up bid", The Straits Times, 10 October 1985
- Archive of "Aids: 20,000 cleared", The Straits Times, 29 November 1985
- Archive of "200 turn up for first public medical convention", The Straits Times, 28 April 1986
- Archive of "Screening tests likely to uncover more Aids carriers", The Straits Times, 1 May 1986
- Archive of "100 people could be Aids carriers here: Expert", The Straits Times, 3 August 1986
- Archive of "Aids claims first victim here", The Straits Times, 11 April 1987
- Archive of "Fear of Aids pushes up condom sales", The Straits Times, 19 April 1987
- Archive of "Govt dental clinics phasing out boiling", The Straits Times, 1 October 1987
- Earliest cases of HIV/AIDS in Singapore
- HIV/AIDS in Singapore's LGBT community
- Paddy Chew
- Avin Tan
- Ajmal Khan
- Calvin Tan
- Adrian Tyler
- Kong Sook Chin, "Blood highs and lows", The Straits Times, 13 May 1986.
This article was archived by Roy Tan.