Today we commemorate World Blood Donor Day by celebrating the life and legacy of the late Dr. Waveney Charles, this nation’s first registered haemotologist. Over the course of her remarkable career, Dr. Charles pioneered the diagnosis and treatment of blood disorders, saving the lives of countless people, including many children living with sickle cell, haemophilia and thalassemia. The Guyanese-born Dr Charles was a warmly adopted daughter of our soil, dedicating her life to improving and enhancing this nation’s blood bank capacity and transforming attitudes towards blood donation. In her memory, and in keeping with the premise of World Blood Donor Day, let us redouble our efforts to promote the importance of voluntary, non-remunerated blood donation and applaud those altruistic individuals who regularly provide this life-saving service.

Blood supply is an integral part of any healthcare system and is especially critical for emergency treatment, surgical procedures and maternal and perinatal care. Although the need for blood and blood products is constant, and often arises suddenly, people are usually inclined to donate only when they are directly affected. Trinidad and Tobago currently punches well below its weight when it comes to blood donation with just over 20,000 units donated annually, well short of the 65,000 units recommended for the size of our population.

An irregular and reactionary system of blood donation hinders the ability of hospitals to perform life-saving procedures and constrains them from taking appropriate action in times of crisis. Restricted mobility during the Novel Coronavirus pandemic has caused fewer persons to donate blood, however, patients continue to require urgent treatment. This fall-off in donations puts further strain on our already deficient blood stock. We must all recognize that giving blood is part of our patriotic duty, and shows that we stand in solidarity with our fellow countrymen.

As we emerge from this period of stay-home, let us all play our part in achieving a system in which blood is readily available to persons when they need it. Make becoming a registered blood donor a priority. Those who are ineligible to donate can contribute by recruiting volunteers to this noble cause.

Blood can be donated at the following Blood Donation Centres:

4 Charlotte Street, Opposite Memorial Park, Port of Spain
Phone: (868)-623-8250, (868)-624-7524

Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex
Phone: (868)-645-2640 ext. 2008

San Fernando General Hospital
Phone: (868)-652-1121

Sangre Grande Hospital
Phone: (868) 668-2468/2288 ext. 147

Scarborough General Hospital
Phone: (868)-660-4744 ext., 3098