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Blood bank appeals for more and younger donors

Blood donors at the Engomi medical centre

THE Nicosia blood bank made yet another urgent plea for blood donation on Friday to help meet existing needs and also appealed for new donors.

Socrates Menelaou, head of the Engomi blood bank, said fewer people than expected came forward on Thursday as regular donors had already rushed to help in the summer prior to the holidays.

He added that the increasing number of local operations, as opposed to sending patients overseas, was also a strain on the blood bank supply.

“We had a low influx of blood donors because many had already donated in the summer and cannot do so now, as men can donate blood every three months and women every four,” Menelaou told state broadcaster CyBC.

He added that existing donors give blood regularly but that there is need for new and regular donors.

People aged over 17 are eligible to become donors. According to an EU Directive, people up to the age of 66 may also donate blood, but if the physician on duty at the blood bank deems that the health of a donor over that age is satisfactory, then they too are allowed to give blood.

The government has been raising awareness in high schools, where blood drives are being organised among 17- and 18-year-old students, Menelaou said, but it is important that the youngsters who participate continue donating later in life.

Usually, Menelaou said, students will donate blood because their classmates are doing it too, but after they leave school they stop being donors.

He stressed the need for new donors, as many as possible, because on average 20 to 25 per cent of those going to blood banks are rejected due to a number of factors: low blood pressure or iron and haemoglobin levels, allergies, taking specific medication, sickness, or even having  travelled to countries where there are epidemics.

“What is more important is the moral satisfaction one gets from donating blood. A single donation yields three different blood components – red blood cells, plasma, and platelets – administered to three different patients,” Menelaou said.

In addition to the blood clinics, he said, there are mobile units used in blood drives organised by communities and municipalities, schools, companies and other organisations.

“There is a very good network allowing someone to donate blood,” Menelaou said.

In all towns except Nicosia donors may go to the blood banks of the district’s general hospital between 7.30am and 2.30pm.

In Nicosia the blood bank is located in the Engomi health centre. Working hours are 7.30am and 8pm, and on Saturdays between 8.30am and 1.30pm.

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