Tith Dany had lots of time to think about sharp needles as she waited in line, stepped on a scale, and was tested for blood type and blood pressure. It didn’t stop her from hopping onto a gurney and rolling up her sleeve to donate desperately needed blood.
“I’m very happy” to give, the 19-year-old teacher from Svay Rieng province said as her blood flowed through a tube and a couple of friends massaged her. “This is my second time.”
Cambodia needs many more Tith Danys.
A shortage in the blood supply is causing problems for the ill and injured, National Blood Transfusion Center worker Ko Sary said. “We can’t find enough blood. If [patients] need three units, we give them two,” Ko Sary said.
The center receives between 500 and 600 350-milliliter units of blood a month, but it requires 800 to 900 units.
One out of five units donated is useless—infected with HIV, hepatitis or other sexually transmitted diseases, Ko Sary said. A key problem is that the population most likely to give blood is also the most likely to have tainted blood.
Two-thirds of blood donated is supplied by relatives of hospital patients, but that is the blood most likely to be tainted because those relatives do not always get regular health checkups.
Thirty-five percent of blood donors give during blood drives at high schools, universities, pagodas or churches. Another 5 percent are regular donors and they are most likely to have clean blood, Ko Sary said.
Blood may be donated by anyone in good health older than 17 and weighing more than 45 kg. Men may donate every three months and women every four months.
Donors receive a free meal and sometimes other small gifts such as T-shirts, officials said.
Donations may be made at the National Blood Transfusion Center, at the corner of streets 114 and 51.