Hospital needs regular blood donors

| 28/07/2011

(CNS): The overwhelming response of Cayman residents to an emergency request for blood in June, which helped to save a young man’s life, also points to the need for an improved network of regular donors. An urgent call in June for blood for Stephen Ebanks, who was undergoing emergency surgery for a ruptured spleen, led to almost half the number of donors that usually give in a month donating at the Cayman Islands Blood Bank. The message quickly spread through social media and word of month, leading to long queues of potential donors. Due to the large turnout, staff were actually forced to send some people away, since it was clear they would be getting enough supply.

By the end of the day, 33 units of O positive blood were donated, compared to an average of 70 that the bank receives in a typical month.

According to Judith Clarke, Laboratory Manager at the Health Services Authority, it was hard to accurately gauge the response because not everyone got the chance to donate. “Some prospective donors and regular donors were asked to return for signing up or donating at a later date, thusmaking it difficult to get a correct figure pertaining to the response,” Clarke explained, adding that 18 of the 33 units collected that day came from new donors.

The official number of registered donors, as of the beginning of this year, is 1,116, which would be acceptable for developing countries whose requirement is 1% of the population, but short of Cayman’s needs. Clarke said that for Cayman, the World Health Organization sets a target of 5% of the population, or about 2,700 registered donors.

On World Blood Donor Day on 14 June, only 11 people donated – four of them new – and that was celebrated fewer than two weeks after the emergency call for blood. “World Blood Donor Day is really to thank voluntary unpaid donors for their life-saving contribution. The emphasis is usually on saying thank you, but a few organizations might choose to lend their support by organizing a blood drive,” Clarke said.

World Blood Donor Day fell on a holiday last year and on a weekend in 2008 and 2009, but in 2007, there were seven donors, four of whom were new.

At the moment, there is no immediate shortfall of blood, though in general AB negative is the rarest type, with O positive the most common, at 50.5% of the donor population in Cayman, said Clarke.

“But donors of all blood type are always encouraged to sign up,” she said, calling on people in Cayman to come forward as regular donors. “Without your donation, in the event of an emergency, there will not be safe, fully screened blood ready for use. You can make a difference between life and death.”

Category: Health

Comments (28)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    My husband received many blood transfusions while he was very ill in GT Hospital over a 2 year period.  I will be forever grateful to all the people who donated blood and contributed to his survival.  I always felt bad that I could not donated myself, having lived in the UK, but was comforted by the fact that my husband had a little bit of Cayman or, more likely, Jamaica running through his veins.  Please donate blood.  It saves lives.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hi Everyone,  I am Thea Ebanks the sister of Stephen Ebanks I would personally on  behalf of the rest of my family would like to thank everyone who came out and donated blood to my brother for his emergency surgery on June 2nd 2011.  I am so grateful for all those who took the time out of their schedule to go to the hospital and donate blood to save his life. THANKS  



  3. Anonymous says:

    Can someone tell me 1) when was the last time there was a confirmed case of CJD (Mad Cow Disease) in the UK and 2) how many confirmed cases there have ever been.  Then let's see what that is in statistical terms to assess the REAL risk.  The continued exclusion of UK citizens or those who have lived in the UK by the authorities here – who in turn refer to the US for guidance (and we can see the mess their healthcare system is in) – is simply shooting the blood bank in the proverbial foot instead of providing a much needed shot in the arm – pardon the puns.

    • Big Ben says:

      Please allow me to re-post my comment from last year, and from every previous time this crazy scenario has taken up space on thise forum:

      Like many others I am frustrated by the illogical decision to defer donors who have lived in the UK.

      Anecdotal evidence suggests that there have been “only 107 definite and probable cases of variant CJD have been diagnosed over 6 years in a population of 55 million.” ( which translates to having to wait nearly 62 years for a single case to show up in Cayman if all other factors remain the same (Chance of vCJD per person = (No. cases/No. Years)/Population) therefore years per case = 1/(Chance per person * population).

      Furthermore, the PanAmerican Health Organisation appears to have a much more sensible definition of those with UK connections who should be deferred as donors: “PAHO Recommendation: Individuals with diagnosis of TSE as well asthose who received extract derived from human pituitary gland, duramater or corneal grafts; those with family risk of human TSE; those with behavioral risk of vCJD; and those who received transfusions in the UK from 1980 to 1996 should be deferred as blood donors.” (Eligibility for Blood Donation, 2009,

      If Dr Greg or whoever makes up the rules would like to open the floodgates of willing and altruistic donors, please drop this unneccessary and unwelcome restriction. I’d hate to have to be in need of a transfusion here in Cayman knowing that I wasn’t able to even help myself when I wanted to.


    • Anonymous says:

      I cannot agree more. My husband and I are Caymanian and went to college in the UK TWENTY SIX years ago. We were blood donors from our first days in college and for a few years after coming back home until this stupid rule came in. Surely by now we would know if we have (or be dead from) mad cow disease. Buying blood from the USA where some donors are paid to donate cannot be the answer. Have a "mad cow" separate fridge for us if you want but don't turn away the majority of your donors. I would happily have donated for Stephen, I posted the appeal on Facebook and was delighted to see the response.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I too would donate but I also lived in the UK. 


    How about the blood bank making appointments with the offices on island and go around that way.  Have the blood bank truck parked outside and have staff go to the truck on a break and give blood and return to the office.  It is an idea. 

  5. Anonymous says:

    i'll give you blood when you give me full human rights…..

    • Anonymous says:

      I give blood regularly.  Maybe the life I save be the person that makes true human rights possible.

    • Anonymous says:

      well u should give blood anyway getting human rights or not  it may be your life that may have to be saved one day by needing it so look at it that way

    • Anonymous says:

      Well you should give blood anyway getting human rights or not its always good to donate cause u never know when u might need it to save your own life.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree! You have to acknowledge that I am HUMAN before you can get my blood.

    • Anonymous says:

      I do not see what human rights and giving blood have to do with each other.  Giving blood saves lives.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I believe they are not equipped to test for 'Mad Cow', thus the reason they cannot accept British Blood. Surely it would be beneficial to all to get the equipment needed, which would in turn lead to more blood being donated.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am sure that the test can be done here but you will probally have to wait for a very long time to get the results. This is one area that needs improvement. Sometimes when certain tests are done the waiting period is so long for the results that the poor patient die before the results arrive. Oh and the water at the Hospital I understand that it is pipe water no wander so many people are dying.

  7. Stephen Ebanks says:

    Thank You…

    I would like to personally thank everyone that donated blood that day which saved my life. My situation was very critical and I had a minimum chance of survival, to be exact my family was told I had three percent chance to live. If it was not for the community coming together as one to donate blood I would not be here to give thanks and to encourage individuals to donate. I did not realize or know that the statistics for blood donors was so low until I read this. Tell you the truth I never really thought about the impact that donating blood can provide until my situation. It goes to show that it is very important and it doesnt matter if you know the person by donating blood you can save a life. We are all human and the blood that runs through us is the same, even though our society has ways of changing the way we think, act, and view things. The blood that runs through my veins now is a piece of everyone that tried or donated blood and I THANK YOU!!


    Stephen Ebanks

  8. Anonymous says:

    I think considering the facilities available to them, the blood bank is very well run.  Unfortunately they don't operate like a hair salon where you can make an appointment as they just aren't equipped that way.. maybe instead of the government purchasing more police cars, they should consider upgrading the hospital facilities.

    I am O negative and they call me every 3 months to donate and I am usually in and out within half hour.  Keep up the good work guys, you are doing great!


  9. Anonymous says:

    Question – Have they changed the rule that prevents anyone from the UK donating?  If not they should make this clear in their publicity.

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree, UK people are used to giving blood. If we were included, most of the UK citizens would donate. Also make it more accessible, a mobile van at workplaces, at supermarkets etc.

  10. Anonymous says:

    There would be many more donors including myself if there were no restriction on those who lived in the UK in the 1980s and 1990s (which is to supposed to eliminate the risk of contamination with Mad Cow Disease).

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree. Looking at the Mad Cows that we have elected to high office, I believe that a new outbreak would only offer us better options. Oops, scratch that thought. I have been reliably informed that it is "hoof-in-mouth" disease that afflicts our politicians.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I'm blood donor and get a phone call from the blood bank every three months to come in and donate. People interested in being a donor should sign up and they will be contacted to come in and donate when your blood is needed.

    Only problem i found is finding parking @ the hospital. Although they have one designated spot for blood donors. Its not being reserved for us and it's always in use by non donors.

  12. Subway Cookie says:

    I'd love to donate but apparently  I might have mad cow disease because I lived in the UK for a year.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I was a regular blood donor until the foot-and-mouth outbreak in the UK. Because I came from the UK, our blood was not considered good enough, even though I was living here before, during and after the outbreak.

    Considering we are supposed to have strong links to the UK, it seems this policy of turning away blood donors from the UK seems a bit unnecsessary.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I have been trying for the 8 years since arriving here but they still are not accepting blood from anyone who has lived in UK, due to the long past Mad Cow disease……when will they take my blood I will give it- willingly and regularly…and so will myhusband.

  15. GR says:


    I would donate more if the donation process was more 'user-friendly'.  I wish I could make an appointment for a specific time (say 11am) and then know that I could arrive at 11, complete the paperwork, donate and leave 45 minutes later.  The current arrive, wait and donate when there is a space wastes too much of my time.

    In addition, why doesn't the Blood Bank become more pro-active and call donors and ask the donors if they would like to donate?