In Costa Rica, the month of December usually means a low supply of blood at the country’s public hospitals, and this year is no different. On Monday, the National Blood Bank warned that its reserves are nearly depleted.
Blood Bank Director Melissa Zapata said that covering monthly demand at Social Security System hospitals and clinics across the country requires about 120 donors a day. But current reserves are near zero, and most blood that has been donated or collected in the past few weeks has being used almost immediately.
The need for blood donations also increases in December because of a spike in accidents and other health-related emergencies during the holiday season. But finding donors – many who are on vacation – during the holidays isn’t easy. And because it’s Costa Rica, increased alcohol consumption and eating in excess are both common, which means the blood is no good, she said.
In response, the Blood Bank this week is launching a donation drive at their main facilities in the southeastern district of Zapote (across the street from the Catholic Church), with extended hours on weekends and staff that will visit businesses on weekdays.
Those wishing to donate can visit the bank from Monday to Friday, 7 a.m.-3 p.m., and Saturdays from 8 a.m. until noon. On Sundays, bank staff will hold donation drive in several communities.
On Friday, Dec. 5 the bank will hold a special donation event at its Zapote facilities with the goal of acquiring enough blood to last throughout the month.
“We have the infrastructure to serve up to 12 donors at a time, so we hope that several people will come to help others,” Zapata said.
Who can donate?
Anyone who meets the following requirements:
• Age: 18-60
• Weight: minimum of 50 kg (110 lbs)
• Good health
• Has a valid cédula or resident ID
Other important factors:
• Donors must not have been vaccinated in the last two weeks. Also, the most recent meal cannot include greasy or spicy foods. Those with Hepatitis B or C will be turned away, along with anyone who has received a tattoo or piercing in the past 12 months.
• People who take aspirin should suspend the doses at least three days prior to donating.
• Fasting is unnecessary, and a light breakfast is recommended before donating. Doctors recommend coffee, tea, or non-dairy drinks, as well as bread or toasts with jam, fruit and plenty of water.
• Avoid dairy products.
For more info you can call the bank at: 2280-9952 ext. 103 or 107 (English-speaking staff is available).