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Donors at The Blood Donation Centre in Oud Metha, Dubai. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: If healthy people with a good haemoglobin count donate blood once every three months, they not only help save precious lives, but can also help build their own health, said a top Dubai Health Authority official.

On the occasion of International World Blood Donor day, Dr Mai Raouf, director of the Dubai Blood Donation Centre told Gulf News, “There is evidence to prove that donating blood regularly has a lot of health benefits. It not only helps stimulate growth of the red blood cells, but also stimulates the bone marrow to produce more white blood cells; it reduces the excess iron content in one’s body and protects the heart and brain from strokes.”

Dr Raouf was countering many myths and fears that people have about blood donation. Many fear that donating one unit of blood (450ml) periodically can weaken them. “On the contrary, donating blood is a very healthy practice. This year, the slogan given by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for the blood donation campaign 2021 is ‘Give Blood keep the world beating’.”

55,000 units of blood collected in 2021 at the Dubai blood donation centre

During the COVID-19 pandemic, with millions of people were hospitalised around the world, voluntary blood donations helped hospitals save lives whenever blood was required. In the UAE, residents are regularly encouraged to donate blood voluntarily. In 2020, the blood donation centre collected 55,000 units of blood with 66,000 voluntary donors registering for blood donation.

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Dr Mai Raouf said every responsible resident must voluntarily donate blood. Image Credit: Supplied

Dr Raouf said, “Many of the donors registered their interest through DHA’s app, which has a subsection called DAMMI, filling in all their details and coming to the centre for donations. Many just walked in to donate. Of the 66,000 people who registered, not all were able to donate as we conduct proper tests to see who is eligible and healthy to donate blood. These units collected were life-saving. About 36 per cent went to the Thalassaemia ward at Latifa Hospital, 30 per cent to private hospitals for road traumas, surgeries, and the rest to all DHA hospitals.”

Someone is need of blood every minute

Dr Raouf said every responsible resident must voluntarily donate blood. “In the UAE, just like anywhere else in the world, every minute there is someone who needs blood, be it a road trauma victim, a burns victim, a surgery patient, cancer patients, those with blood disorders and other genetic conditions. Every drop of blood donated counts. A single unit of blood (450ml) can save at least three lives, as we are able to extract red blood cells, plasma and platelets that can be utilised in three different individuals. Voluntary blood donations from the community are significant and every healthy individual can easily donate one unit of blood several times — men, six times and women, five times in a year.”

Register on DHA app to donate blood

Dr Raouf added that Dubai residents could easily download the DHA app and select the DAMMI blood donation section. The DHA app is available on Android and iOS platforms free of charge and the DAMMI section provides FAQ’s, criteria for being able to donate blood as well as an option to complete registering online so that it saves time when the person goes to the centre to donate blood. “Once that is done, the individual can come to our centre and donate blood.”

“I think it is my duty to donate blood as often as I can” — Antony Thomas

Meet Antony Thomas, a senior business development manager at a UAE jewellery group who has donated blood over 30 times since 2006. Thomas, 43, first realised the importance of donating blood when his senior colleague’s wife was taken ill, required blood transfusion and he had to help procure blood. “We were frantic and scrambled around for blood. It was so difficult procuring the right blood group and the units required. That is when I realised how important it was for all of us to make this donation. One unit of blood, once every three months is not much to donate. Yet, it plays such a crucial role in saving lives.”

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Antony Thomas has donated blood over 30 times since 2006. Image Credit: Supplied

The life of the woman was saved; luckily, many people from Thomas’ group came forward to donate blood. “This helped me understand the value of timely volunteer donation of blood. Since then, every year on World Blood Donation day, about 50-60 of my office colleagues go to the blood donation centre donate blood. While I donate once every three months, at least we as a group have made it a regular practice to donate blood annually,” said Thomas.