AMID increased demand for blood products over recent months, driven, in part, by dengue infections, the Ministry of Health and Wellness is appealing to Jamaicans to donate blood.
“Platelets that are made from blood are needed by the body to help with clotting of the blood if there is bleeding. Platelets are usually affected in the patients who are diagnosed with a severe dengue infection,” acting director of the National Blood Transfusion Service, Dr Alisha Tucker, is quoted in a release from the ministry.
“If someone has a low platelet count because of a severe dengue infection, they will need platelets in order to help to prevent bleeding or to help stop bleeding if they are now having symptoms from the low platelet count,” she added.
The ministry said the amount of platelets needed will depend on the size of the person. “In an average day, in any one of the blood collection centres in Jamaica, an average of five to 10 donors will present and this is not enough to meet the increased demand,” Tucker said.
From the beginning of 2018 to present, a total of 6,525 suspected cases of dengue have been reported from across Jamaica — 1,057 for 2018 and 5,468 for 2019, the release said.
However, the demand for blood does not end with dengue. In addition to trauma, the Bustamante Hospital for Children, for example, has great demands for blood and blood products for the children who need corrective heart, brain and spine surgeries, as well as children who have been diagnosed with blood diseases and cancers, the release continued.
According to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO)/World Health Organization (WHO), based on Jamaica’s population, the target number of blood units should be 50,000.