We thank Mr Teo Chen Wei for his letter, "Information on blood donor eligibility and costs could be better publicised" (July 18), about clarifying some misconceptions which donors might have. We are heartened to see young people like him being passionate and advocating blood donation.
Blood donation information and donor eligibility criteria are available on the Singapore Red Cross (SRC) microsite (giveblood.sg) and social channels. These are also available on the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) website hsa.gov.sg/donor_criteria, where donors can also check their eligibility by answering a few simple questions. To shorten their waiting time, donors can make an appointment via donateblood.hsa.gov.sg or our DonateBlood app.
The donation criteria ensure that donors can donate blood safely and the donated blood is safe for patients. It is important for donors to replenish the iron lost after donation and maintain healthy iron levels.
We therefore advise donors to donate blood only 12 weeks after their last donation, so that there is sufficient time to replenish the iron lost after donation.
During this period, donors are encouraged to eat well-balanced, iron-rich meals and to complete the full course of iron supplements given by the blood bank.
To dispel misconceptions regarding blood donation, we have put up clarifications on SRC's social media pages and microsite (https://giveblood.sg/mythbuster-faqs/), as well as on the HSA website (https://www.hsa.gov.sg/blood-donation/misconceptions). We also work closely with the media to address such misconceptions whenever opportunities arise.
Donors can donate blood immediately if their tattoos are done using sterile, single-use needles.
However, if this was not done or if they are not sure, they must wait 12 months after the procedure due to possible risk of blood-borne infections.
Another misconception is that HSA profits from the blood donated by altruistic donors. This is not true. Patients do not pay for the blood they receive. But they do pay a blood processing fee, which covers the costs of collecting, testing, processing and storing the blood products. Recovering these costs helps HSA to adopt the latest technologies and quality systems to meet international standards and provide the highest-quality safe blood for our patients.
We thank all blood donors who have stepped forward and answered our call for more donations. Regular donation is the cornerstone of a safe and sustainable blood supply. We need more people, especially the young, to donate blood regularly and make it a lifelong habit.
You are the lifeline for our patients-in-need.
Director, Blood Donor Programme
Singapore Red Cross
Kam Wooi Seong (Dr)
Assistant Group Director (Blood Supply)
Health Sciences Authority