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Ape was away for quite sometime. The last 3 months had been so exciting. What started out as a simple photo of a school, ended up with ape reconnecting with friends of his primary school. Schoolmates of his cohort, the P6s of 3 classes. That’s considering we were in primary 6 almost 3 decades ago!
What happened over all these years is anyone’s guess but ape noted one’s primary school academic performance has no relevance to what we eventually are now. Perhaps ape will write about this bunch of fun loving, down to earth people, including a doctor whom ape affectionately call Dr Mai Coon (meaning “don’t sleep” in Hokkien)
Anyway, this post is really about Blood Bank in Singapore. Ape was told that every time someone posted a call on FB or other social media requesting for certain blood type because a friend, relative, family member, acquaintance etc is in need of blood transfusion, staff in Blood Bank scrambled to do stock take. Why? Some ‘concerned’ people will ask the staff if they’re short of blood. It can happen anytime of the day including post mid night. We, as members of public, who didn’t know better and tried our part to share and forward such posts to help in the appeal are actually disrupting Blood Bank more than we know.
Here’s some insider info to help us understand better how Blood Bank operates. So the next time, do think twice before we forward or share posts appealing for blood donation.
Stock Keeping And Distribution
Blood Bank keeps stock of all blood types. No blood type is allowed to deplete below a certain level. When it does come close to the ‘low level’, the official channel is Singapore Red Cross. SRC will call up the specific blood group donors to come forth or specific public channels such as SRC Facebook. Only when such targeted or specific channels failed to get enough donors, a nation wide appeal thru official media like radio or TV will be done. Fortunately, ape don’t recall Blood Bank had to resort to nation wide appeal other than the occasional blood donation campaign and promotion.
Since Singapore is relatively small in size, Blood Bank keep most of the stocks and a certain level is maintained in each hospital for emergency cases. Therefore, when a particular hospital falls short, the hospital will obtain from Blood Bank to top up their stock. This can happen when there’s major accidents with many casualties warded to a particular hospital. The stock in that hospital can deplete fast. This is also where confusion arises and individual appeal for blood donation cause a small panic.
Sometimes, hospital staff who don’t know the process would tell the patient that they are short of blood. What they actually meant was that particular hospital was short of that particular blood type. The staff either didn’t know or perhaps with intent of encouraging blood donation, told family members to donate. So when family members post appeal in FB, Blood Bank staff saw it, they’ll be like huh?!? They’ll scramble to stock take, check the case, identify source etc all in interest of ensuring that there’s no lapse. However, such scrambling take away their time from their work.
So We Don’t Appeal, Don’t Donate?
We can still appeal but in the least, tag a date in the message body. What happened was the post may get circulated, forwarded, shared and re-forwarded, re-shared for years. The patient might have recovered or (sadly) died but the post still circulating and that is creating a lot of confusion.
Also, do donate as and when you can. Don’t wait for last minute or urgent cases. Ape’s friend said they do have regular donors but age group getting older. Most of these regulars started several years back and continue to do so. However, new and young donors are getting less. When the current cohort gets old and no longer suitable for donation, the regular donors pool will dwindle.
Also, don’t wait for last minute for reasons of ‘saving blood for own family’. As far as blood donation is concerned, your blood may not go direct to your family members. Imagine someone you know and love needs blood transfusion urgently. You step forward to donate. Your blood will still need to be tested for suitability and processed. By then, the patient who needs blood might have died if waiting for this process to go through. What we saw in movies where the donor and recipient lay side by side for transfusion is really bull faeces. Maybe that scenario can happen when situation is so dire where everyone can’t be bothered with checking blood for virus etc.
The process of checking and testing is also quite complex and not merely checking blood type. Ape’s doctor friend described the process with jargons and ape simply… Lost in lallang. In a nutshell, if your love ones needed blood now, your last minute donation is unlikely to reach your love ones but you can do your part now before anyone you know needs blood.
Surely, Immediate Family Members Should Not Have Problems? Why The Tests?
This question was raised when we talked about this. The good doctor explained ethics and confidentiality in layman terms for us. Imagine a daughter needs blood transfusion urgently. Healthy parents who are not on any medication shouldn’t be any problem right? What if the father visited prostitute recently? If he says no, the family will be suspicious right? Worse if he lied and he had in fact contracted HIV? To save the family from further anguish, all must go through tests, not only for blood types, but check for HIV, STDs, Hep A B C and do re mi… OK OK, no do re mi. The point is all donated blood must be tested and processed. So if any anomalies found, the donor will be contacted privately. Family members won’t know whose blood is used since hospital is likely to use existing stock which is not from any of the family members.
If you’re keen to do your part, do read up the official link above and start donating now. Have a great weekend ahead