From left, boxer Teresa Perozzi, runner Aaron Evans and golfer Michael Sims. *File photos
From left, boxer Teresa Perozzi, runner Aaron Evans and golfer Michael Sims. *File photos

Five local athletes have teamed up with the Bermuda Hospitals Board to launch an island-wide blood donor campaign aimed at young people.

The campaign will launch on Monday as part of blood donor month and a set of five posters featuring the athletes is to encourage the younger community to give blood. 

The King Edward VII Memorial Hospital uses between 35 and 40 units of blood every week. 

In order to meet the demand, 40 to 50 people must donate every week, as blood cannot be imported. 

The five athletes featured in the campaign are middle distance runner Aaron Evans, tennis player Gavin Manders, golfer Michael Sims, boxer Teresa Perozzi and  para-athlete Jessica Lewis. 

Each poster has this message  “Giving is like sports … it’s in the blood” and is expected to keep the topic at the forefront of the community’s mind during the summer blood donation drive which runs from Monday until August. 

A BHB spokesman said: “We know these athletes are highly regarded by the age group we are trying to attract. We’re hoping that this sparks an interest to donate in a group we’ve previously not been successful in attracting.”

Speaking on his decision to participate, Manders said: “I believe in giving back to people who need help, and I hope I can encourage other young Bermudians to do the same.”

Evans added: “I decided to be a part of this year’s blood donor campaign because I never knew how much our hospital relied on donated blood. 

“Currently we have approximately 1,100 donors, just fewer than two per cent of our population. This also gives me an opportunity to help save Bermudians lives, through encouraging and educating others on the importance of donating blood. 

“We do not import blood from overseas, so it’s important to have donors on a regular basis here.”

Dr Eyitayo Fakunle, BHB medical director of the Blood Transfusion Service said: “We appreciate all those who donate blood in Bermuda. It’s a vital service that saves lives. 

“Very few of our donors are under the age of 45 so we are trying to attract this population to give. 

“The World Health Organisation recommends that 30 per cent of a country’s donor pool should be between 18-25 years. 

“Here in Bermuda less than four per cent of our blood donors are in this age group.”

He continued: “We’re pleased that five outstanding young local athletes have agreed to advocate for blood donation. 

“These three men and two women who have embraced the idea and appreciate the importance of blood donation, represent not only excellence in their sporting discipline, but also in good health and fitness. 

“We are hopeful that acting as the face of the campaign, our five athletes will inspire their contemporaries to become life-long blood donors.”

BHB CEO Venetta Symonds added: “It is our responsibility to ensure that we provide the highest quality of healthcare in Bermuda. 

“We applaud the five athletes who have agreed to be advocates in our poster campaign.” n