Low numbers: Only two per cent of Bermuda residents donate blood compared to an average of six per cent in other developed countries. *Photo supplied
Low numbers: Only two per cent of Bermuda residents donate blood compared to an average of six per cent in other developed countries. *Photo supplied

Thanks to very dedicated donors and hard-working staff from the Bermuda Blood Donor Centre, blood supplies are maintained throughout the year to meet the needs of our community.

These vital supplies save lives and provide therapeutic treatments for people with cancer, sickle cell anaemia and other medical conditions requiring blood products.

“The only source of blood in Bermuda comes from these volunteer donors,” says Dr. Eyitayo Fakunle, director of blood transfusions for Bermuda Hospitals Board.

“At the moment, our blood supplies are maintained, thanks to a dedicated group of about 1,100 blood donors.

“This is less than two per cent of our population and a much lower percentage than found in other developed countries, where close to six per cent of the population donate blood.

“We constantly lose donors for a myriad of reasons, such as retirement and emigration, so there is a continuous need for new donors. Members of the public are urged to consider donating blood.”

While people often think blood is mostly needed for emergencies, such as road accidents or shooting victims, only a very small percentage is used in these situations.

There is a constant and ongoing need for blood- surgeries are scheduled daily, cancer patients need treatments every week, complications during childbirth can happen at any time and people regularly come to the hospital for care following injuries.

Susan de Verteuil, pathology nurse for the Blood Donor Centre, said: “Without blood, our local services could not run safely.

“When a woman goes into labour, we need blood supplies in case of an emergency. When there is a road accident, we must be prepared.

“Patients undergoing chemotherapy are made more comfortable by receiving blood component therapy.

“A child with sickle cell anaemia in an haemolytic crisis will need a transfusion to survive. People assume blood will be there when we or our loved ones need it.  But only a small number of us are making sure it is there for the remaining 98 per cent of the population.”

About 40 to 50 units of blood are needed in Bermuda every week.

“Without sufficient blood supplies, lives would be put at risk,” Dr. Fakunle notes.  “A single accident could consume large volumes of our stocks, leaving planned surgeries and treatments in jeopardy.

“The Bermuda Blood Donor Centre belongs to all of us. It serves the needs of everyone who resides and visits the island. Without community support, without assistance from the people of Bermuda, we could not maintain sufficient supplies. In addition to our regular donors, we are always looking for new donors to assure we can meet the needs of running a busy hospital.

“With over 34,000 visits to the Emergency Room each year and over 9,000 surgeries performed annually, maintaining blood supplies is an issue that affects everyone and can only be managed with help from the public.”

Fiona Barber, administrator for the Blood Donor Centre, points out that trained blood donor nurses ensure maximum comfort and safety in order to minimize concerns or anxiety about needles. New comfortable, purpose-built chairs help donors relax and large screen TVs provide entertainment. And, of course, cookies and beverages are always available.

A short video about donating blood, produced by Bermuda Yellow Pages, is available on YouTube. Or check out Facebook at Betsie Blood Drop.