Don't give blood if you have high-risk lifestyle

SEREMBAN, Malaysia - Malaysians with high-risk lifestyles must stop donating blood although they feel they are healthy as there is a window period for infections or viruses before the symptoms show up.

The National Blood Centre (NBC) said that despite stringent donor screening procedures and laboratory tests, there was still the danger of the supply being tainted.

"These individuals may look healthy but they may still be harbouring unknown diseases in that window period," said blood centre director Dr Roshida Hasan.

She added that the centre had been seeing an increase of blood tainted with diseases like syphilis; and a fairly consistent trend for HIV in recent years.

"The overall percentage of donated blood found to be reactive or tainted over the years has been quite stable. However, our analysis shows that there has been a reduction of Hepatitis B- and C-tainted blood."

Dr Roshida said the quantity of donated blood found to be reactive upon screening was between 0.1 per cent and 0.2 per cent of the total blood donated each year.

To ensure recipients are not given tainted blood, the centre has established a database with all ministry's blood banks and collection centres on donors who had been confirmed to be infected with transmissible infections such as HIV, Hepatitis B and C and syphilis.

She said that on average, there was a demand for between 1,500 and 1,600 donations a day.

"For the last three years, the NBC has not been in any 'critical stock' situation at all.

"Although there had been situations where the available stock went below the minimum level, we were still able to supply blood to our recipients," she said.