And there’s good news: Ministry of Health laboratory scientist Theresa Tatuava says the blood donor system in the Cook Islands, and in particular, on Rarotonga, is relatively up to speed with the rest of the world, especially in terms of safety and regulations.
“We have a blood fridge which we keep stocked with 10 units of O Pos and 10 units of A Pos blood as these are the most common blood types in the Cook Islands. When a transfusion is required, compatible blood is taken from the blood fridge and this is replaced as soon as possible so that the blood fridge remains stocked with blood,” she said.
Blood donors are contacted by the local Red Cross or by Tatuava, and people generally donate at the Red Cross headquarters in Tupapa. However, in cases of emergency donors are called into the laboratory at Rarotonga Hospital.
“We have a panel of volunteer non-renumerated blood donors (VNRBD) who are contacted every five or six months to come in and donate.”
And in spite of Rarotonga’s small size, Tatuava says there is rarely a shortage of blood.
“We do not have a shortage of blood types. It’s more a case of people not being willing to become blood donors. Volunteer blood donors with rare blood types like Rh Negative are the donors that we do not have a lot of.”
Tatuava says all blood types are needed on a continual basis and the laboratory can never have too much blood.
Though more blood donors on the island would be helpful, there are procedures in place to assist with the supply of rare blood types when necessary.
In the past Cook Islands has imported rare blood types and platelets from New Zealand.
“However this is relatively rare” Tatuava says
All donated blood is fully screened for diseases including HIV, Hepatitis B and C and syphilis, she adds.
Screening is done whenever blood is donated and Tatuava says her qualified staff have access to all the equipment they require.
“As in other countries, there is always a need for blood in the Cook Islands.”
Tatuava says the safe and painless donation procedure simply means a few moments out of a donor’s day, but is vital for potential patients in need, as their lives could depend on it.
To give blood, or for more information on the procedure, call Red Cross on 22598