More youth donors at downtown blood bank

SINGAPORE - Eight months after Bloodbank@Dhoby Ghaut opened, the new blood donation site has already "exceeded" expectations with young blood donors making up almost 40 per cent of donor turnout, said the Health Sciences Authority (HSA).

From September to the end of last month, 37 per cent of its 6,164 registered donors were young people. Last year, there were 22,451 youth donors - 31.7 per cent of all donors.

The blood bank at Dhoby Xchange is one of three centres managed by HSA and the Singapore Red Cross. The other two are in Outram and Woodlands.

The downtown centre in Dhoby Ghaut MRT station was set up in part to raise the proportion of young donors - those aged 16 to 25 - to 35 per cent of the total donor pool by next year.

"Its convenient location has enabled us to better serve the office workers in the adjacent buildings, students in the nearby schools, shoppers in the Dhoby Ghaut area and commuters," said Dr Lam Kian Ming, director of the Blood Services Group at HSA. These, he added, include both new and regular donors.

Donated blood is needed in increasing amounts every year for medical transfusions, use in surgery, for cancer treatment and diseases like dengue fever.

This is why it is important to reach out to youngsters to cultivate a habit of giving blood so they will be lifelong donors, said Singapore Red Cross secretary general Benjamin William. "When they start giving blood willingly as youths, it is likelier that they will continue to do so even in adulthood."

Figures from HSA show that while the pool of blood donors grew by 17 per cent from 2008 to reach 70,855 last year, numbers have held steady in the 16 to 25 age group at 22,000 a year.

Regular donors Nicolette Ng and Liew Mei Wa told The Sunday Times the new blood bank has an inviting look. "It feels like just another cafe or retail shop," said Ms Liew, a 25-year-old cost analyst at a shipping firm who has made 27 donations.

Ms Ng, who donated blood last Friday, said the centre is convenient for her because it is near her workplace.

"I just went down at lunchtime," said the 23-year-old public relations executive, who has donated blood on seven other occasions.

"If you can spend an hour shopping, you can spend an hour donating at the blood bank."

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