Secretary of Infrastructure, Quarries and Environment Kwesi Des Vignes is giving the gift of blood this Christmas.
Des Vignes is the PNM candidate for the electoral district of Providence/Mason Hall/Moriah in the January 25, 2021 Tobago House of Assembly elections.
The candidate is using his platform to inject some life into the call for more blood donors by the Scarborough Blood Bank. It was reported again that the blood supply in Tobago is critically low. The island, like Trinidad, only collects a fraction of what is needed annually. Tobago surgeries require about 3,000 pints per year. On a good day, Scarborough General Hospital might receive just three pints donated.
Medical Chief of Staff Dr Victor Wheeler recently said more blood is usually needed around Christmas.
Wheeler said, “Generally, with the increased (alcohol) drinking there are a lot more accidents, and with heavier partying there is a higher rate of accidents.”
Medical officials recently said that due to covid19, it seems fewer people are coming forward to give blood and the island’s bloodstock is low.
Des Vignes pleaded: “This country does not have a culture of voluntary donors. Covid has apparently made the situation worse. According to health officials, we should be collecting 3,000 units per year, but we only get fewer than 1,000 pints. People need to come out and donate, this Christmas.”
He said it is important to not just donate blood but to advocate and raise awareness on the blood shortage on the island. He encouraged Tobagonians to join him on his mission, saying “a blood donor is a life saver.”
Des Vignes donated blood on December 22 at the Scarborough General Hospital. He is no stranger to donating blood, having been a donor for the last five years.
“I give blood regularly and so it is an easy process for me. The fear of the needle is a deterrent to some, but it is definitely a case of mind over matter.”
There are some surgical procedures that are on hold, owing to the low blood supply. Des Vignes said, “Imagine a family member or loved one has to undergo surgery and can’t proceed. This is the reality for some families in Tobago today. Sometimes, we don’t see the value in doing something unless it hits home, and we must change that mindset.”
Asked what he wants for Christmas, Des Vignes said, “I want the blood bank to report that they received an influx of donors, with each of them pledging to be repeat donors. Sometimes we say that we do not have much and so we cannot give, but what greater gift to give someone than the gift of life. That is my Christmas wish.”
Blood donations can be made through the Scarborough General Hospital’s blood bank. Appointments for donations can be made by contacting 660-4744 ext 310.