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Jul 26, 2018

Healthy Living: Make Life Deposits to Save Lives

We’ve seen the pleas regularly online. We’ve even seen few on this station, families of ill persons begging strangers to donate blood. There is one way to prevent you and your family from being in that scenario and that’s by becoming a voluntary blood donor. Tonight in Healthy Living, we find out more about making these life deposits.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

It may not be the grand modern edifice that would naturally come to mind when you think of a “bank.’ But it can easily be argued that this modest building is one collection point for what may be your most important deposits. Here at the National Blood Bank, the deposits you make are counted in units and each person is restricted to deposit one unit every three months.


Doreen Madrill

Doreen Madrill, Nurse Phlebotomist

“The blood bank works just like any other bank except that we don’t work with cash.”


Nurse Doreen Madrill is a Nurse Phlebotomist who’s been working at the blood bank for almost sixteen years. She’s one of the frontline persons that donors interact with at this blood bank conducting interviews and preliminary checks as well as assisting with questionnaires.


Once a deposit is made, each donor receives a donor card – similar to a bank book – it your personal copy of deposits of made and helps you keep tabs for your next donation.


Doreen Madrill

“This from the first donation will tell you in the next three months you can come back. When you come in to donate voluntary now. Anytime after that donation is given you can come back or call and say nurse I would want to give a blood to this person and this is the blood type and it is honored. Anybody who you choose to give it to once it is the correct blood type.”


A voluntary donor can make a withdrawal on your deposit at any time. To be clear, a voluntary donor gives blood with no designated recipient. While, a replacement donor is one who donates on behalf of someone else.  So it’s like repaying a loan, of sorts, for blood that person has used in an emergency or blood they will use in the immediate future for a medical procedure.

So, because replacement donors are giving blood already earmarked for use, the push is for more people to come in to the bank and donate voluntarily.


Doreen Madrill

“Voluntary donors are the donors we depend on. Those are the donor who help us out in emergencies: road traffic accident, stab wound, gunshot, chop wound. Those people are not prepared for any blood transfusion. It’s an accident. It just happen, so that’s when our voluntary donors come in they help us out then. Sit down and think about it the blood bank is at loss all the time because you come in and donate a blood to me now, thirty-five days from today that blood will expire, when that blood expire we try to use out the old blood first because every day we have a new expiration date.”


Marleni Cuellar

“How do you manage that? What do you do?”


Doreen Madrill

“It’s just the daily flow in and the blood drives we do. The more blood drive and beg blood from different places. We bring that in and then we have that expiration date that will give us another thirty-five days.”


There are a small group of persons who have committed to being regular voluntary blood donors. They make up about ten percent of the blood donated to the bank. Ronald Stuart has been making deposits as a voluntary donor three times a year since the mid 90’s.


Ronald Stuart

Ronald Stuart, Voluntary Blood Donor

“I continue to do it because it so gratifying because I’m helping a person who I may never meet but it makes a difference in their life and the life of their family. It’s also beneficial for me, once I give a blood donation the body doesn’t have to destroy it. And then there is no replacement for it, there is no artificial blood – so to speak – so I give.”


Mark Lopez

Mark Lopez, Blood Donor

“It’s the gift of life. Over the years I have given many blood to different individuals. To me, it is a positive thing and when I leave from this building I am happy that I save somebody life or whatever it is they need the blood for.”


In Belize the greatest demand is for blood type o-positive and the greatest challenge is in getting o-negative – a more rare blood type. One of the important roles of the blood bank is ensuring there is sufficient supply of all types of blood.


Doreen Madrill

“When I run into problem…”


Marleni Cuellar

“Problem like what?”


Doreen Madrill

“The blood bank is very, very low and I really need blood I have to call donors and they come in and help me.  I call donors or called districts. I may call Orange Walk and see if they have excess blood that you can help me with. They say yes nurse or a quick blood drive.”


Marleni Cuellar

“Why should they become voluntary blood donors?”


Doreen Madrill

“It makes life easier for everybody. When you have an emergency, you don’t have to run to B.D.F. or call Channel Five, Channel Seven or Love FM; none of that. The blood will be available at all times. Come in and donate voluntary and you don’t need to worry about anything the blood will always be here.”


Mark Lopez

“Don’t be afraid. Come in do it. Also it helps cause it let you know your blood count if HIV or syphilis and when you come all this is tested for you.”


Ronald Stuart

“We have the capacity in belie to have a hundred percent voluntary donation but we need the public to respond to that need.”


To be a blood donor you must be eighteen and older and in good health.

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