Phlebotomist Alana Job takes blood from Ealon Ignacio during the NWRHA’s Blood Drive at the Ministry of Agriculture, Chase Village, Chaguanas, on Saturday.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problem of low blood supply in the country, conscientious citizens came out to donate blood and show that it was safe to do so at the North West Regional Health Authority’s (NWRHA) mobile blood collection vehicle at the Ministry of Agriculture, Chase Village, Chaguanas, on Saturday.

For Kevon Persad, of Chaguanas, it was the second time he had donated blood. He said he felt safe doing so despite COVID-19, as there was no hassle, the process didn’t take long, was pain-free and they were helping their fellow citizens in need.

It was also Couva resident Jesse Pulwarty’s second time donating blood. He said it was a wonderful experience and encouraged as many people to donate blood as it was safe, relatively pain-free and for a worthy cause.

NWRHA Head Nurse Nelva Miller said, “Since the COVID-19 pandemic has started, there has been a decrease in blood donation at all blood banks throughout T&T.

“However, we have the blood mobile bus that goes out into the community to do voluntary donations to help with the blood donation collection to serve all hospitals and health institutions throughout the country.

“One of the community services that has been helping us with increasing the blood donation is Friends of the Community that has teamed up with the NWRHA to help with that process.”

She said people from 17 years with parental consent to the age of 65 can voluntarily donate blood.

Community activist Geeta Chickooree said she saw the need to work with the NWRHA when the CMO Dr Roshan Parasram pleaded told the country they were low in blood supply. She said she reached out to the authority and has been working with them for the past several months to hold a series of blood drives.

Chickooree said this was a very important initiative and she had a passion for it, noting one pint of blood can save up to three lives. She said donating blood had several health benefits. She said she donated blood for the first time in July, it was a beautiful and fascinating experience and she felt alive and many years younger.

She said because of COVID-19, many people were hesitant in coming out to donate blood but encouraged them to come out and do so.