Monday, 25 May 2015

[Straits Times] Measures in place to ensure blood supply safety

WE THANK Mr Kang Choon Tian for highlighting that the integrity of our national blood supply also depends on donors' honesty and sense of social responsibility ("Enough checks on blood donors?"; May 14).
Using the most sensitive testing technologies available, every unit of donated blood in our blood banks is processed and tested for infectious diseases, including HIV. Units with positive or inconclusive results for diseases will not be for patients' use.
Such stringent and comprehensive measures, based on international standards and best practices, safeguard the health and safety of patients receiving the blood.
Like all blood banks worldwide, we are mindful of window periods, during which the early stages of infections are undetectable, even with the best available tests.
As an additional protective measure, for the safety of blood recipients, every blood donor is required to truthfully answer all questions on his medical, travel and sexual history, in the Donor Health Assessment Questionnaire and the Declaration Form.
During a face-to-face private interview, a medical screener will go through these questions with him.
After donation, the donor can contact the blood bank using the 24-hour toll-free line (1800-226-3320) if he feels that his blood is unsuitable for transfusion.
These processes ensure donors are aware of the implications of their answers on blood safety, and are given sufficient opportunities to be honest when answering the questionnaire.
Regular and potential blood donors should not be deterred from donating blood by the need to answer the questionnaire, but they should be truthful in their responses to the questions posed.
Medical personnel at the blood banks and blood mobiles will then assess their eligibility to donate blood. These steps help ensure the safety of our blood supply.
Finally, we thank all donors for their altruism and social responsibility in donating the gift of life, and encourage them to continue donating healthy and safe blood.
Ang Ai Leen (Dr)
Deputy Group Director
Blood Services Group
Health Sciences Authority