By Karla Betania Sánchez Arismendi
A couple of weeks ago, I received a message from Abby Osman, a retired counselor and educator now living in Cuenca. “Were you contacted to donate blood for a man who is at Hospital Del Rio?” I immediately checked my email and, in fact, a Cuencana lady asks me desperately to donate blood type B+.
“I’ll be at the Red Cross tomorrow morning,” I answered.
I was at Cruz Roja del Azuay on Antonio Borrero between Presidente Córdova and Juan Jaramillo at 8:30 a.m. the next morning. After filling out some documents and showing my ID, I entered a small room and sat on a comfortable couch where my blood was taken. The whole procedure took about 30 minutes and I got a cookie and juice afterward.
Abby, who is 65 years, created the Emergency Blood Donor List, a voluntary, confidential donor list compiled to help the Cuenca community during an emergency when an individual needs blood for hospital a procedure.
Abby decided to create this list after seeing many posts on Facebook pages where individuals in crisis needed a particular blood type because the donors, they had lined up were unable to donate for one reason or another. “The panic of possibly having to reschedule an important and life-saving surgery put sick people into an even deeper crisis and stressful situation than they were already in. It became clear to me that if there was a list of people that met the Red Cross requirement guidelines for blood donation that identified blood type. And contact information, a connection could be made directly between patient to the potential donor,” Abby she explained.
Only in existence for three months, the Emergency Blood Donor List has already provided critcal assistance to the Cuenca community.
How does it work?
The person in need of an emergency donor requests information if there is a donor on the list with the blood type they need. They are given contact information for a donor. They then contact the donor directly to provide the necessary information and logistics for the blood donation (hospital location, Red Cross center, timeline, need for a translator for the process, etc.) The patient and donor work out the details. At the Red Cross donation center, the blood donor will donate in the patient’s name with a hospital medical order. If blood is drawn through the Red Cross in Cuenca, it is kept there until the scheduled surgery. If drawn at the hospital, it is already at the location of the surgery.
There is no charge to the person in need of blood and no payment to the person who donates the blood.
Who would be an ideal donor?
“Anyone who meets the Red Cross eligibility guidelines for donating blood is the perfect donor, but very few donors on the list have Rh- blood. Some of those on the list may have already donated within the last six months and are not permitted to donate again until at least six months have passed,” explained the retired educator.
Requirements for donating blood
- Be between 18 and 65 years old.
- Minimum weight of 50 Kg.
- Not be sick the day you go to the donation.
- Not having suffered from Hepatitis type B, type C, HIV-AIDS, Syphilis, etc.
- Not having multiple sexual partners.
- Not having received organ transplants.
- Not suffer from epilepsy, tuberculosis, severe heart disease, or cancer.
- Do not use intravenous or inhaled drugs.
- Not have been admitted to penal or mental institutions.
- Women, not be pregnant or nursing.
- In the past 12 months, there have been no tattoos, piercings, acupuncture, transfusions, catheterizations, endoscopies, or sexual contact with strangers.
- In the last six months, not having had surgery, major accident, mononucleosis, toxoplasmosis, or meningitis.
- In the case of women not having had childbirth, cesarean section, or abortion.
- In the last 28 days, have not traveled to areas with epidemiological outbreaks or have received any of the following vaccines: tuberculosis, polio, measles, rubella, mumps, yellow fever, cholera, or influenza.
- In the last 12 hours, not having ingested alcoholic beverages, narcotics, marijuana, or any narcotic.
The donor list is particularly essential now, in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, because most blood drives have been suspended. Local hospitals and the Red Cross donot have the blood supplies they need at all times.
“The very first call I received was from an individual who asked me if there was someone on the list that was O+ who could donate to a child at SOLCA cancer hospital,” Abby said. “A name and contact information was provided. That was a pretty powerful motivator for me.”
To be part of the blood donor list, please contact 098 375 4901, WhatsApp (US#) 1-617-800-9893 or email: email@example.com.