Voluntary Blood Donation

Enchong Dee and OIC Undersecretary Gerardo BayugoEnchong Dee and OIC Undersecretary Gerardo Bayugo


     “More blood, more life.” This was the global theme for World Blood Day on June 14. This was also the theme adopted by the Department of Health when it observed the National Voluntary Blood Donation Month in July. A few heeded the call in blood letting activities, mostly from coming from the health sector and some from the police and the military. Others were already regular donors and for a few newbies they, shall we say, “forced volunteers.”  The act of voluntarily donating blood has not exactly creeped in the consciousness of Filipinos.  Many would only think of donating blood when a member of the family or a close friend is the one in need.

     One thing good that happened during the surge of dengue cases in Luzon was the hype media created on the need of blood for dengue patients, mostly children. And for the first time, news on voluntary blood donation reached Healthbeat’s countdown of the Top 10 health news.

     On August 15, Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Secretary General Gwendolyn Pang urged more people to donate blood as severe dengue cases need blood.

     Data provided by PRC show that annual blood collection falls short of what is needed. The PRC has an average collection of 2,500 to 3,000 units of blood daily nationwide.

     Pang explained that in 2010, PRC collected a total of 273,000 units of blood, representing 49.6 per cent of the total national collection of 550,000 units from all blood collecting agencies, including the DOH and the Philippine Blood Coordinating Council. But the total collection was still 440,000 units short of the national requirement for 950,000 units last year. The PRC urged the public to “be more resolute in promoting voluntary blood donation” with the rise in dengue cases in mind.

     Dr. Lyndon Lee Suy, program manager of the DOH Emerging and Reemerging Infectious Diseases, emphasized the need for donated blood by severe dengue patients. He said, “While only five per cent of dengue patients need blood, we still encourage blood donation.”

     Quite a coincidence, Enchong Dee, matinee actor, swimmer and a regular blood donor, was scheduled to donate his precious blood in the DOH, the following day, August 16. This donation landed on the news and easily he became a DOH poster boy for the blood program.

     Soon after, the Philippine Medical Association, ABS CBN, TV 5, among others held their own blood letting activities. The DOH hopes that this good deed would be sustained any day of the year, with or without dengue.  

     Filipinos have to remind themselves that giving blood is giving the most precious gift to another person: the gift that will extend the life of the sick while at the same time, reinvigorate the giver. As Health Secretary Enrique T. Ona emphasized, “We do not lose blood when we give because as we donate blood, we refill our bodies with new and fresher blood.