JULY is the National Blood Donation Month, and the university is expected to drum up the campaign on campus. Taking the lead in the campaign are UST Hospital and the Red Cross Youth Council (RCYC).

In an interview, Dr. Manuel Barnes, chair of the Blood Bank of the USTH Division of Clinical Pathology (DCP), said that most of their supply comes from replacement blood instead of volunteer donors. Replacement blood comes from people paid by the hospital to donate blood in order to maintain their regular stock of blood.

Following the programs of the Department of Health, Barnes said they have organized plans for improved information dissemination to target more volunteer donors. These include tapping multinational corporations like Roche. Likewise, they will be coordinating with RCYC for blood-letting campaigns in the different colleges in the Medicine and Main buildings.

“As of now our goal is to make the present 10 per cent volunteer donors 100 percent,” Barnes said.

Located at the ground floor of the USTH Pay Division, the DCP maintains an average of 600 units of blood every month. Each unit contains 430 cc of blood that passes through the Blood Component Separation System, a process of separating the four components of whole blood into four; namely, packed red cells, plasma, platelet concentrates and cryoprecipitate. The process involves placing the unit of blood in the extractor, then spinning it in the centrifuge machine until the red blood cells settle at the bottom while the plasma component surfaces.

This is done not only to maximize the use of one unit of blood but also to use the components for patients with the specified need. For example, continuous bleeding from stabbed wounds or accidents will require a whole unit of blood, thus one donor will have one recipient. Meanwhile, a patient with a low hemoglobin count only needs red blood cells, thus removing plasma, the component responsible for speeding up wound healing. Lack of hemoglobin, on the other hand, may cause a patient to suffer anemia. In this case, a unit of blood may benefit at most three patients.

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However, great demand puts a pressure on the supply of blood in the DCP, especially during the rainy season when various epidemics and diseases are rampant. In order to increase the supply, Barnes said they have initiated the Blood Assurance Program. Under the program, any donor who donates twice will be free to receive a unit of blood once she will need it. The program encourages mass participation among students and other members of the Thomasian community.

Dr. Rodrigo Rodrigo, donor recruitment officer of the USTH, has been very active in promoting blood donation in and out of the university. According to him, donating blood regularly is actually good for one’s health for it replaces the old red blood cells and prompts the body to form new blood cells in a process called erythropoiesis.

The different college chapters of the RCYC are also keen on implementing their blood-letting drives this month. The College of Science chapter will be running a series of campaigns starting July 9. Likewise, the Colleges of Engineering, Pharmacy, Nursing, Rehabilitation Science and Commerce will be coming up with blood donation drives in coordination with the Philippine National Red Cross.

Regular blood donation does not only improve one’s physical health. The feeling of extending the life of another is a psychological satisfaction that can only be gained by selflessly donating a pack of life. John Ferdinand T. Buen


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