Health Minister: Voluntary blood donations have increased

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Minister of Health Terrence Deyalsingh donates blood at the ministry’s blood donation drive on World Blood Donor Day at Independence Square, Port of Spain on June 14. – Photo by Angelo Marcelle

HEALTH Minister Terrence Deyalsingh says the ministry has seen an uptick in the number of voluntary donations.

Speaking at the ministry’s blood donation drive on World Blood Donor Day at Independence Square, Port of Spain, on June 14, he said, “The frequency has been relatively stable. What we’re seeing is an increase in voluntary donors.

“When we started this drive some years ago, the number of voluntary donors was 0.5 per cent. Now, it’s 10.5 per cent.”

He also announced Trinidad and Tobago will be moving to a voluntary blood donation system, describing the current chit system as “inequitable.”

Deyalsingh first announced this change in 2022.

“The chit system is inequitable. That means you give blood, but it is you who determines who gets the blood.

“What about the others? What about the gunshot victim? What about the mother undergoing a caesarean section? Or the child with sickle-cell disease? How do they get blood?”

Deyalsingh said the current system traumatises people who struggle to find donors.

“We are one of the few countries in the world that still has a chit system, and this isn’t a good thing.”

He called the current chit system “dangerous,” as desperate patients will go to any lengths to secure a transfusion.

“People, in their desperation to find blood, will pay drug addicts who may have sexually transmitted illnesses, and it contaminates the blood supply.

“It’s dangerous, it’s inequitable, it’s unpredictable and we want to get rid of that.”

Deyalsingh said through blood donation drives, the ministry hopes to encourage more people to become donors.

“During the drives, we get anything between 15-20 pints of blood, and…we want to raise awareness and get more blood, we want to encourage more people to come out to build our database and help maintain our national stock.”