PRCCI on World Blood Donor Day
You could save up to three lives
San Juan, Puerto Rico — June 14, 2021 — The pandemic has impacted the life of everyone, including the availability of blood in Puerto Rico. Thousands of people need blood because of accidents, medical treatments, illnesses, disasters or emergencies, as well as patients hospitalized due to COVID-19, said Dra. Amarilys Silva-Boschetti, PharmD, BSPharm, RPh, executive director of the Puerto Rico Consortium for Clinical Investigation, a subsidiary of the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust.
Last year, PRCCI joined forces with three of the island’s main blood banks — “Banco de Sangre de Servicios Mutuos” (Mutual Services Blood Bank, BSSM by its Spanish acronym), Puerto Rico Blood Bank (PRBB) in Ponce, and the Blood Bank of Puerto Rico (Centro Medico, Rio Piedras) — to boost blood supplies through an initiative named “We carry it in our blood,” aimed at educating people on the importance of blood donations and exhorting the public to action.
“We need to do more to continue saving lives, including promoting a culture of continuous blood donations to maintain optimum supply levels and to meet the local demand in a sustained way,” said Dr. Silva-Boschetti, reminding that blood flowing into a bank is used quickly to treat patients.
“When you donate a pint of blood you could be saving up to three lives,” Dr. Silva-Boschetti emphasized on this “World Blood Donor Day” that is celebrated worldwide every June 14. PRCCI estimates that blood supplies are back to the levels in the summer of 2020, with an average availability of 52%, according to BSSM and PRBB as of May 2021.
Dr. Gerardo Latoni, “Banco de Sangre de Servicios Mutuos” (Mutual Services Blood Bank) medical director.
Dr. Gerardo Latoni, BSSM medical director, said that controls set up as a result of the pandemic such as 30% capacity restrictions in closed workplaces, the absence of communal activities in municipalities, as well as closings of universities and colleges impacted blood collections.
“No matter how we have reinvented ourselves and continue doing so, offering the ‘adoption of centers,’ for example, and allowing students to donate by appointment, it has not been enough. Furthermore, virtual work from home does not encourage blood donations, but despite these challenges we keep going with a firm step, exploring new opportunities,’ said Dr. Latoni. BSSM, with main offices in Rio Piedras and San Patricio, has collection centers throughout the island.
Ada V. Cartagena, supervisor of the Puerto Rico Blood Bank in Ponce.
Meanwhile, Ada V. Cartagena, supervisor of the Puerto Rico Blood Bank in Ponce, pointed to other difficulties in times of COVID-19 such as the fear of contagion still prevalent among part of the population despite the COVID-19 vaccine and the strict measures established by the blood banks to protect donors and their personnel from potential contagion.
According to Cartagena, “another element that has impacted the collection of blood has been the protocols established by companies during the pandemic, which restrict blood donation events. In the case of our bank we continue seeking collaboration opportunities to increase supplies and be able to serve the blood needs of hospitals in the South-Eastern part of the island. We are hopeful that with the island’s reopening, banks will be able to renew their extensive program of blood collection events, moving to where donors are in our region,” said Cartagena.
Dr. Silva-Boschetti said that you have to take into account that blood products are essential for treatments and for the continuous local medical-scientific development that promotes research in therapeutic areas such as oncology, inflammation, cardio-metabolic illnesses, neurosciences, vaccination and respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, among others, bringing new treatment options and wellbeing for the benefit of patients in Puerto Rico.
Requirements to Donate
While donors can show up and easily donate at blood donation events, it is recommended for the time being that interested donors communicate with the blood bank of their preference and coordinate an appointment. This is in keeping with the safety protocols established to guarantee safety during the pandemic.
All you have to do to donate is present an I.D. with photo, be older than 16 years of age and fill out a questionnaire. Adolescents between the ages of 16 and 17 require a written authorization from their parents and should check the respective blood banks. Eating and drinking liquids is recommended before donating.
The three blood banks are “Banco de Sangre de Servicios Mutuos” (Mutual Services Blood Bank), the Puerto Rico Blood Bank in Ponce and the Blood Bank of Puerto Rico located at the Medical Center in Rio Piedras.
Contact the BSSM at www.bancodesangreserviciosmutuos.com/dona-sangre or at www.donassangrepr.com and choose the “donate blood now” button. Hours: Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The centers around the island are open Monday through Sunday from 8:00 am to 5 p.m. Email for appointments: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone number for appointments: 787-751-6115.
The Puerto Rico Blood Bank of Ponce is located at 234 Sabanetas Industrial Park, in front of the Department of the Family. You can use WhatsApp to contact the Puerto Rico Blood Bank at 787-238-3748. Make an appointment by writing to: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org Look up Puerto Rico Blood Bank on Facebook or PRBloodBank on Instagram. Operating hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. You can also access the bank at www.puertoricobloodbank.com or call 787-651-1880.
In the metro area you can reach the Blood Bank of PR, located close by the parking building at the Medical Center in Rio Piedras, by calling 787-777-3844 for hours and appointments.
Puerto Ricans “carry it in the blood.” Join this effort to save lives and create awareness about the importance of collecting blood and its components for the benefit of everyone in Puerto Rico. For more information on the work done by PRCCI go to https://prcci.org
Zuna Maza, APR