Venezuelans not eligible to donate blood for one year

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.