Around 200 young adults donate blood at the National Blood Transfusion Centre in Phnom Penh every day. Donating blood is an important activity for public health, but can also have health benefits for donors. Perhaps most importantly, it is a selfless act that can save the lives of others.
Dr Hok Kimcheng, director of the national blood transfusion centre, said that if all qualified people in the country donated blood four times a year it would cover the country’s demand, which he said was growing.
The centre in Phnom Penh supplies around 80 percent of the country’s blood needs. There are an additional 21 blood transfusion centres in the provinces.
Dr Kimcheng said that young people have a crucial role to play in making life-saving blood donations. However, donors must meet certain conditions: They must be at least 18, weigh at least 45kg, be in good health and answer a few health-related questions.
“Those with chronic or contagious diseases cannot donate blood. Before we use donated blood, we perform multiple tests on it to make sure it is safe,” he added.
Through advertising and education campaigns, Dr Kimcheng tries to convey the message that far from being bad for your health, donating blood has the important benefit of allowing you to know your health status.
“Beside raising awareness, donating blood encourages the body to create new blood cells. It can also help to reduce diseases and some cancers. And donating blood is a humane activity; it can save the lives of people who need blood,” Dr Kimcheng said.
He added that people are often reluctant to donate blood because they don’t understand the effects of the procedure. If people clearly understood these effects and value of donating blood, especially the huge positive impact it has on society, they would be less reluctant, the doctor said.
With the demand for blood having increased dramatically, the national and provincial blood transfusion centres are trying to spread information among local communities about the need to donate. Raising awareness at schools and universities is a huge part of this.
Dr Kimcheng said, “Young people now understand a lot about blood transfusion. And it is remarkable that the number of women donating blood is now comparable to the number of men. So I think they are really eager to participate in these socially conscious activities. Importantly, university students aged 20-25 are really active in donating blood”.
The growing participation of youth in donating blood is a good sign for society, as demand for blood is growing while the level of voluntary blood donation remains low. Dr Kimcheng urged members of the public to get more involved in donating blood at transfusion centres throughout the country, reminding everyone that it could be our loved ones who need blood someday.