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Jun 13, 2013

Healthy Living finds out where to get true blood

Banks are institutions that help the economy of a nation to thrive, but this week Healthy Living visits a bank where giving helps to literally save lives. Friday, June fourteenth, will be celebrated as World Blood Donor Day. I visited the Belize Blood Donor services to find out how this important vein finds blood to give to our loved ones.


Marleni Cuellar

“When an emergency strikes, one of the vital elements to treatment is blood; particularly donor blood. Yet of the five thousand units of blood collected annually here at the Belize Blood Donors Service, only ten percent is donor blood. I am here today to find out exactly how the process works for blood donation and why we haven’t been seeing many people stepping up as voluntary blood donors.”


Joy Robateau

Joy Robateau, Supervisor, Belize Blood Donor Services

“There are two types of donors: voluntary blood donors, the people that come in and give to the blood bank. These bloods we use for emergency cases and we have replacement donors which is the donor that will give to the patient that they are donating for.”


Joy Robateau is the supervisor for The Belize Blood Donor Services, or Blood Bank, which is the collection hub for blood donations; she works along with a small team of medical lab technicians and nurses. She explains the typical process for a blood donor.


Marleni Cuellar

Joy Robateau

“The process would be for you have a photo ID with you. You would answer a questionnaire and we will screen that questionnaire. And these are global questions and we have global response to those questions saying whether you are eligible or not. After the questionnaire, we would do a finger prick to test your hemoglobin level which will tell you whether your blood count is high enough for you to donate. We will also test your blood type and we will set up a test called a malaria slide. The optimum hemoglobin level would be for females, twelve point five and about and for males thirty point five and above. The nurse then will sterilize your arm, locate the vein and insert the needle.”


Nurse Doreen Madrill, Phlebotomist

“The process no hard. You wah feel wah lee pinch; of course definite because it is a needle that I would stick you with. Other than that, I have never had a donor that I have had to really, really coax.”


Nurse Doreen Madrill

The actual collection of the unit only takes about ten to fifteen minutes. Once this part of the process is complete, the bag is sealed and sent for testing at the Central Medical Laboratory. Even though the questionnaire is used to filter out risky donors, the blood must be screened before it is stored.


Joy Robateau

“The blood is then stored and spinned to make products; that would be fresh frozen plasma, paxels or platelets. And it is stored, depending on what product is made; it is stored at different temperature. The blood is tested for HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, syphilis, chacas and malaria. If the blood is positive, the bag is discarded by incineration, the donor is called in and we do a second sample. The second sample would confirm whether it is positive or carrier and we would refer the donor to a councilor and doctor that is attached to the blood bank.”


The blood bank averages about five thousand units of blood per year. Of that amount only ten percent is from voluntary donors.


Nurse Madrill

“Voluntary now you come willingly…nobody give you nothing, you just come and donate blood to the blood bank. When you donate blood voluntarily to the blood bank, where your donation goes is for people like sickle cell anemia who come to the hospital in the night and do not have a donor at that time. In the morning, probably one of the relatives would come and replace the donor. For road traffic accident you know that is uncontrollable so that is where the voluntary donors’ blood is issue to.”


Joy Robateau,

“Voluntary blood goes to emergency cases that has to do with road traffic accident, gunshot wounds or any other unexpected emergency case. A person can receive as much blood as possible to save his or her life after. After this is done, we request replacement donor to come in and put back the stock that we use.  This is where the voluntary donation process comes in because this helps to replace the stock that we have.”


Robateau especially urges persons with negative blood type to become blood donors.


Joy Robateau

“Most of the time when they are asking for blood, it would be negative and our population is practically ten percent or less of negative types.”


Jaime Corea

With every blood unit, three persons can benefit. Essentially saving three lives with twenty minutes of your time; this is the impetus that drives voluntary blood donor Jaime Correa.


Jaime Corea, Blood Donor

“There is always the need, you hear about all these gunshots, all these people needing blood for sickle cell, all types of breathing disorders, dialysis. So basically it is just to contribute.”


Joy Robateau,

“The voluntary donor benefit by having a donor of six months on their donation…anytime within that six months, you can come and claim a unit of blood from the bank…and your immediate family. Is important to have more voluntary donors because we have found that voluntary donors are the most safe donors in the sense that they are more healthy; they take care of themselves.”


Jaime Corea

“I think people a lot of people say it hurts more than it actually does…you can actually does and if you don’t give me a try, you cannot know exactly what it is. When you encourage everybody to do it. When we realize that by doing nothing much, you can actually save lives.”

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No Responses for “Healthy Living finds out where to get true blood”

  1. Initiate says:

    @“Most of the time when they are asking for blood, it would be negative and our population is practically ten percent or less of negative types.”

    Is this statement saying that if you have negative type blood, that you will unfortunately also more likely end up in accident or whatever in need of blood ??

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