Efforts to reach out to potential blood donors

I applaud Mr Ooi Mun Kong ("Target non-donors in blood donation drive"; Tuesday) for advocating blood donation upon his first experience.

Indeed, regular blood donation is the responsibility of all healthy individuals. Today, only one in 50 among our resident population is a blood donor. These donors are carrying the burden of Singapore's transfusion needs.

We have to ensure that the importance of blood donation becomes a part of the national psyche and is viewed as a key element of Total Defence. It is very much a shared responsibility of everyone, young and old. And it is great when first-time donors like Mr Ooi spread the word about their positive encounters and encourage others to do the same.

The Singapore Red Cross has just launched a new campaign that shares inspirational stories of blood recipients at giveblood.sg

Along with our mobile app "Red Cross Connection", the microsite houses quick facts and myth busters - aimed at dispelling misconceptions and helping potential donors understand the giving process.

We believe these tools will catalyse the community to step forth and give blood.

In line with the effort by our partner, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA), to make blood donation convenient to all, there are blood banks located at Dhoby Ghaut (SMRT Xchange), Jurong (Westgate Tower), Outram (HSA) and Woodlands (Civic Centre).

Donors can make an individual appointment online at hsa.gov.sg or a group one by calling 6220-0183.

We have taken on board the suggestions made. We work closely with community bloodmobile organisers such as Tzu Chi Foundation, schools, offices and community groups, to hold at least 10 drives islandwide weekly.

These drives are an effective means of garnering first-time donors, with whom we engage for regular donations.

At the blood banks and at drives, we deploy friendly volunteers who are able to reassure first-time donors. Many are champion blood donors themselves.

We work closely with the HSA and our network of community partners to enhance the donor experience during birthdays, festive occasions and special events such as SG50 and Halloween.

It is important to us that the community has a sense of ownership over the blood banks, as this underscores the sustainability of the National Blood Programme.

We are keen to reach out to new blood donors, and it is therefore heartening to receive Mr Ooi's suggestions on our recruitment efforts.

Benjamin William

Secretary-General/Chief Executive

Singapore Red Cross

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2015, with the headline 'Efforts to reach out to potential blood donors'. Print Edition | Subscribe