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Students boost blood bank drive, as Seychelles' health system seeks more donors

Victoria, Seychelles | November 5, 2020, Thursday @ 19:07 in National » HEALTH | By: Salifa Karapetyan Edited by: Betymie Bonnelame | Views: 3287
Students boost blood bank drive, as Seychelles' health system seeks more donors

A group of students and teachers donated blood in October as part of the blood drive campaign which started in September. (Seychelles Nation)

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(Seychelles News Agency) - In need of both blood and more donors, the National Institute of Health and Social Studies (NIHSS) conducted a blood drive Thursday to help boost the country's depleted blood bank.

Around 26 persons which included students from the institute, together with a few of their parents and friends, showed up to take part in the drive that took place at the Seychelles Hospital's Blood Transfusion Unit.

The registrar of the institute, Vanessa Seth, told SNA that the blood drive campaign started in September. Staff from the Blood Transfusion Unit held a talk with students of NIHSS, for future health workers to learn more about the importance of blood donation.

"During the talk, we realised that there is so much that we do not know as individuals when it comes to blood donation. One example is the complications that come with a last-minute request for blood. When a person is asking for blood last minute, we do not know who will truly be able to do so as the potential donors need to be screened before they can be given the go ahead to donate. Hence there is a need to ensure that there is always blood available in the blood bank," said Seth.

Students from the NIHSS showed up to take part in the drive that took place at the Seychelles Hospital's Blood Transfusion Unit. (Salifa Karapetyan, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

A student from the institute, 18-year-old Hamid Pool, said that after learning that there is a shortage of blood, he decided to take part in the drive.

"I decided to come and donate, help contribute to the bank and who knows, maybe save the life of a person. Another good thing is that your blood is tested, hence you get to know your blood type among other things," said Pool.

For the past recent years, the country's blood bank has been in a dire state. The senior programme officer at the Blood Transfusion Unit, Elizabeth Banda, said that currently, people are only donating blood when there is an emergency.

"The urgency of us looking for donors right now is due to the fact that we have a lot of patients who really need blood, especially those from the oncology unit, who really need a lot of transfused blood. We are facing a challenge at the moment because we have only the regular donors coming in and they only come when they want or when we call them," said Banda. 

She hopes that the number of units collected from the drive will be able to cover all the patients who currently need blood as well as cover those who are pending surgical operations.

The blood drive took place a month before World Volunteer Day, commemorated annually on December 5, as an early tribute. The day is seen as an opportunity to promote volunteerism, encourage governments to support volunteer efforts and recognize volunteer contributions to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at local, national and international levels.

"Courtesy starts at home, and we as future health workers, we need to start to inculcate in our students the importance of donating blood at an early stage. As volunteerism day is on December 5, we wanted to get an early start so as to be an example for other people and inspire them to volunteer on the date itself," said Seth.

She added that this activity will hopefully become an annual event.

"We have already started thinking about the way forward so that we can get more students, not only from NIHSS but also from other post-secondary institutions as a person must be 17 years and above to donate blood. Next year we will have new recruits, others will still be in the institute, others who will have already be integrated into workplaces and hence we will already have a long list," said Seth.

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Tags: Blood Transfusion Unit, National Institute of Health and Social Studies, World Volunteer Day

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