According to the Red Cross, 15 units of blood are used every hour, and this number is only expected to increase with the number of elderly in our population, which elevates the importance of blood donation.
Donated blood is used to help people undergoing major surgeries, and people who suffer from leukaemia, thalassaemia and bleeding disorders. Even during this period, there are still many such patients who need donated blood to survive during emergencies.
But can I donate blood during Covid-19? Is it safe?
Rest assured that you can still donate blood because blood donation operations are still considered an “essential service”. This is as long as you meet the relevant criteria to donate blood in Singapore (discussed below).
The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) is also taking additional precautionary measures to protect the well-being of donors during the pandemic. These measures include screening potential donors before they are allowed inside the blood banks, and placing seats and donation beds apart in line with safe distancing measures.
Who Can Donate Blood in Singapore?
To donate blood, you must:
- Be between 16 and 60 years old
- Weigh at least 45 kg
- Have a haemoglobin level of at least 13.0 g/dl for males and 12.5 g/dl for females
- Be in generally good health
- Not have had any symptoms of infection for at least 1 week (e.g. sore throat, cough, runny nose, diarrhoea)
- Not have had a fever in the last 3 weeks
Please visit this HSA webpage for more details on eligibility for blood donation in Singapore.
If you are a foreigner, you can still donate blood in Singapore. However, note that all blood donors must have a Singaporean residential address which is valid for three months from their intended donation date.
Blood donors also need to provide a Singapore phone number for the medical staff to contact them in case of an emergency or for clarification.
Recovered patients of Covid-19 can choose to donate their blood for plasma therapy
Recovered patients of Covid-19 may voluntarily donate their blood for convalescent plasma therapy, provided that they:
- Have remained healthy for 28 days after their discharge
- Have enough antibodies
- Undergone blood tests to ensure they do not suffer from other viruses like HIV, Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C.
According to the clinical director of the National Centre for Infectious Diseases, the plasma therapy is “based on the principle that recovered patients have protective antibodies that may help against infection”. The therapy will involve using the plasma in the blood to treat critically-ill patients of Covid-19.
Although it is still an unproven therapy for Covid-19, convalescent plasma therapy has been used for influenza and SARS, and has been effective in South Korea for two Covid-19 patients.