Deputy Dean of Graduate Studies and Research Consultant Haematologist Dr Kenneth Charles has admitted that Venezuelans who come to T&T to work would not be eligible to donate blood for one year.
Charles, a senior lecturer, made the comment on Tuesday at his Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope, office in response to a T&T Guardian article published last Friday headlined “Venezuelans can give blood too- NCRHA head.”
In the article, North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) CEO Davlin Thomas stated that Venezuelan nationals can donate blood which would have to be tested.
Thomas made the statement following a World Blood Donor Day symposium titled Safe Blood For All, hosted by UWI’s Faculty of Medical Sciences in collaboration with the NCRHA.
The article also reported that though 65,000 units of blood are required annually, there was a shortage of 22 units, which Charles said was incorrect.
“As far as a transfusion service goes, I think people are eligible to donate (blood) irrespective of their nationality and so on. But there are specific donations eligibility criteria that must be considered. As far as South and Central America go there is this infection that is spread by a bug and a mite and it is called Chagas disease that is endemic in these areas.”
If a person is exposed to the disease, Charles said it can be transmitted in a blood transfusion.
“The tests for exposure do not necessarily become positive before six months,” Charles explained.
Charles said the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that people from South and Central America who visit another country should be deferred from donating blood.
He said another scientific fact was that countries in which malaria are prevalent are also included in the referral list.
Countries in which malaria is prevalent, Charles said are also included on the deferral list.
Venezuela is located on the northern coast of Southern America has seen a recent spike in malaria cases.