Singapore Red Cross concerned over lack of young blood donors
Singapore Red Cross chief feels S'poreans take blood supply for granted, stresses need for regular donors
Every year, there are 600 fewer blood donors in Singapore due to age or illness.
The problem is compounded when young people, aged 16 to 25, are not donating enough.
The statistics worry the Singapore Red Cross, which believes that if things do not improve, Singapore may not have enough safe blood for transfusion needs in the future.
With a resident population of nearly four million people, Singapore has only around 73,600 blood donors.
This is not ideal, said Mr Benjamin William, secretary-general and chief executive officer of the Singapore Red Cross (SRC).
Speaking to The New Paper last Thursday, Mr William felt Singaporeans took it for granted that there would always be a ready supply of blood.
He said: "We have reached this complacent stage that whenever I need blood, there will be blood. We cannot continue to think that blood donation is someone else's responsibility and not mine."
One of his concerns is the lack of young donors. From 2008 to 2018, there was a decline from nearly 23,000 donors to 18,000 among those aged 16 to 25.
Said Mr William: "Young people's priority is work, and they may see blood donation as an inconvenience. They are also distracted.
"So we need to put this importance of blood donation in their face."
SRC is also reaching out to one-time donors to return as repeat donors.
With Singapore's ageing population, fewer people will be able to donate blood. And as they fall ill and need operations, there will be an increased demand for blood.
According to Health Sciences Authority statistics, an estimated 325 units of blood are needed daily and 118,750 units annually.
Countries typically see more donors after a national disaster or tragedy.
Hours after the Manchester Arena attacks in 2017, blood donor centres in Manchester reported huge lines of people queuing to donate blood.
Mr William said a sudden crisis or civil emergency might similarly lead to a spike in demand and the number of people giving blood. But blood, in its complete form, can be stored up to just 35 days after it has been given by a donor, so there is only so much a blood bank can store.
"Blood is not like money. You cannot have 100,000 people donate blood in one day. It may be wasted," said Mr William.
"You need people to be donating regularly, not do it as a one-off."
Donor Shermaine Lee, 23, has been donating blood regularly for a few years.
Her parents, regular blood donors themselves, encouraged her to give blood.
She said: "I feel that there are many people out there who need blood more than I do.
"And after every donation, I feel a sense of achievement, knowing my blood can save one person."
Where to donate blood
(Opposite Outram Park MRT station)
Health Sciences Authority,
11 Outram Road Singapore 169078
(Opposite Causeway Point)
Woodlands Civic Centre
900 South Woodlands Drive
#05-07 Singapore 730900
Dhoby Xchange (Near Exit B)
11 Orchard Road
#B1-05 to B1-10 Singapore 238826
(Jurong East MRT station, Exit D, walk through Westgate Mall)
1 Gateway Drive
#10-01 to 10-05 Singapore 608531