New blood bank opens in Jurong

SINGAPORE - A new blood bank - the largest satellite one among three here with 20 beds - was officially opened in Jurong on Tuesday in a bid to attract more donors living in the western part of Singapore.

About 100 units of blood are expected to be collected daily at the new centre, run by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA).

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam officially opened the 506 sqm new blood collection centre at Westgate Tower, which has been operating since its soft launch last month.

Mr Tharman, who is also Member of Parliament for Jurong GRC, said that current blood supplies are barely enough to meet today's demand.

"We must start from young, and make blood donation a part and parcel of life. It needs to be the norm to donate blood," he added.

This is HSA's third such centre after Dhoby Ghaut and Woodlands, which together provide a third of the national blood supply. The main blood bank is at the HSA building in Outram.

The new centre comes amid increasing demand for blood even as the pool of eligible donors continues to shrink due to an ageing population. The HSA estimates a three to five per cent increase in blood demand annually. The number of blood donors has fallen from 70,824 from 2013 to 68,868 last year.

More than 40 organisations including firms such as M1 and ExxonMobil have pledged a total of 16,400 units of blood for the new blood bank, which will serve more than 18,000 current and past donors living in the West. The new centre is located at the heart of the shopping mall cluster surrounding the Jurong East public transport interchange.

HSA chief executive Mimi Choong said that the aim of the new centre was to provide an accessible and convenient location for western Singapore dwellers, as well as to improve "surge capacity" during emergencies which require increased amounts of blood.

teezhuo@sph.com.sg