June 15, 2021

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Blood and platelet supplies in the country are at critical levels

The Puerto Rico Blood Bank is calling on the entire population to donate blood and platelets given the “serious” situation of their supplies, which have decreased to levels well below those recommended in order to face an emergency situation.

Jorge Mata, director of the Medical Services Administration (ASEM) recalled that the Puerto Rico Blood Bank serves the hospitals of the Río Piedras Medical Center complex, including the Trauma Center, “the only one of its kind in Puerto Rico and possibly del Caribe ”, where all kinds of emergency cases arrive every day, such as victims of accidents and shootings.

“We have supplies for just 2 to 3 days, when we should be prepared for any emergency with supplies for between 7 and 14 days,” said Matta.

“The situation is serious. God forbid and there is an earthquake now and we would not have enough blood to save lives ”, added the ASEM director, with a tone of obvious concern.

Ada Justiniano, manager of the Puerto Rico Blood Bank, joined the call to address the situation and assured that, contrary to what some may think at this time that we are going through the COVID-19 pandemic, donating blood is safe and they have also been taken all measures to ensure the safety of the donor and the personnel carrying out the process.

The manager blamed the shortage on people’s fear of catching COVID-19 in a hospital institution and the effect of the Christmas season, where donations traditionally drop.

However, he insisted that “they should know that donating blood and platelets is very safe. All health protocols are followed, the temperature is taken and it is being done by appointments to avoid the crowding of people ”.

He added that, “all our employees are already vaccinated against COVID-19.”

He explained that people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, either with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, can also donate blood and, in fact, can do it the same day, since “there is no delay time.” It is only recommended that you do not donate without experiencing pain or any other discomfort or side effect.

Similarly, those who have been vaccinated against influenza can donate blood and platelets, even on the same day.

Justiniano clarified that cases of elective surgeries should not be affected by this situation, since they are scheduled procedures and in which, in addition, in most cases relatives come and donate blood for the patient. But he reiterated that “the problem is with emergencies, all those cases of accidents, shootings.”

Beyond the urgency of having a sufficient blood supply to attend emergencies, the manager recalled that in the case of platelets, “they are a blood component that lasts only five days. It needs to be constantly renewed ”.

He recalled that as part of their treatments, people who suffer from cancer receive chemotherapies, “and one of the side effects is the reduction of the platelet count and therefore they need those platelet transfusions.”

The wake-up call for the shortage of supplies of blood and platelets is even more relevant if it is taken into account that at the moment, other countries and states do not have inventory available to supply or sell because they are facing similar shortages.

What you need to know to donate

If you want to cooperate with the Banco de Sangre de Puerto Rico, and donate life to others, below we explain who and how you can do it:

• People between 16 and 17 years of age can donate blood with the authorization of their mother, father or legal guardian, and people between 18 and 80 years of age.

• You should feel in good health

• If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, you can donate blood if this condition is controlled.

• If you are taking medication or have a condition, when you call you can ask if you can donate blood and platelets.

• If you have had tattoos or body piercing, you must wait three months from the date the tattoo or body piercing was done before you can donate.

• You should not donate blood on an empty stomach. It is important that you have eaten food. In fact, you can do your regular activities the day you donate.

• To make an appointment with the bank you should call the number 787-777-3844

• The hours of operation are: Monday to Saturday, from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm; and Sundays from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm

The Puerto Rico Blood Bank is located in the Río Piedras Medical Center complex, and has parking facilities.

The Bank can coordinate blood donation activities, popularly known as sangrías, elsewhere, and go there with the necessary personnel and equipment.

To coordinate an indentation elsewhere, they can call the same number. It can be in activity centers, churches, schools, community centers or other similar places.

The place for the sangria activity must meet certain requirements such as: have a minimum space of 30×30 feet, air conditioning, good lighting, accessible bathrooms, it must be a first floor without stairs, and if it has stairs it must have an elevator or ramps to move the blood collection team.

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