belize blood bank

Pay it Forward and Important Information on Donating Blood in Belize

Last week I put a picture on Facebook of a money jar  that I had left by the water company for someone to find, in addition to all kinds of coins, that had some bills hidden inside as well. I have been doing this occasionally since we moved here when I clean out our change jar. I always love it when I find money and figure that is a good feeling I can easily pass along. In the interest of paying it forward, this time I chose BWS because once I found close to $200 on the road and the only other guy around was riding a bike behind me. At my urgent request, Paul had stopped cart and the guy and I both picked up half the money at the same time. He went to hand his share to me thinking I was the one who dropped it. I told him to keep it and he was so grateful, because he needed money to pay his water bill.

Not wanting to sort the rest of the same coins over again when looking for old Belize and British Honduras money, I decided to just get rid of it all and make a second smaller jar. This one was filled with quarters and nickels and I left it at the park for some kids to find.

pay it forward
Money jar hidden in the kids playhouse at the park around the corner from me.

There has been a lot of talk about people being turned away from giving blood when they were able to in their native country. Today I will explain important information about donating blood in Belize that will help you understand the challenges the San Pedro Red Cross is facing in regards to building a healthy supply of blood for Ambergris Caye. I will also clear up some misinformation that has been brought to our attention. It is important for everyone to know, we have experienced staff on our blood drive committee and we do our research based on current procedures. 

We are all disheartened when people who would not even be questioned in the U.S. or Canada have been turned away in San Pedro. We are continuing to focus on what we can do to climb this mountain and overcome our obstacles to make long lasting positive changes in the system. This is no easy task and we appreciate everyone’s help, support and feedback.

Please consider that we live in a developing country and Belize has neither the technology or the resources to spin and clean blood. The screening standards currently being utilized now in Belize, date back to 1991. That is a long time ago; just imagine what your hairstyle was like and the kind of clothing you were wearing back then and how you have changed over the years. Now imagine how procedures that were written all those years ago read compared to ones that are written now.

As it stands, the Minister of Health is the only one that has the authority to update the screening application, and any changes to the application would have to be done country wide. San Pedro Red Cross would like to get some educational assistance from the American Red Cross to help Belize move forward.

Meanwhile, we keep trying to reach our 50 pints goal for next time and are grateful for some of the larger groups that have been coming out. In December, we had a whole crew from Tropic Air, and Victoria House Resort staff have also donated. In addition to all the wonderful regular donors that we are getting, we would like to get more young male and females to participate.

The San Pedro Belize Red Cross would like to thank everyone who made it possible for us to hold another successful blood drive this past Saturday. We could not have done it without the following people: Dr.Teresa Damera and the entire staff at Clinica Los Pinos, Bowen & Bowen, Maya Island Air, Island Supermarket, Costless Groceries, Casa Pan Dulce, Bowen and Bowen for juice, Pan Dulce, Mike Burnette, Belize Blood Bank, Isla Bonita Taxi Association, San Pedro Sun, Ambergris Today, Designing Solutions and everyone who came out to give blood or told someone to come and give blood.

Because of everyone’s hard work, we were able to collect 30 pints of blood, and adding that to our current stock, we now have 72 pints on reserve for Ambergris Caye. So far 7 pints have been used by 2 different people. Our next blood drive will be coming up in June.

Now for the misinformation. It has been brought to our attention by two different expats, one living here and one a long time part timer, that both were under the impression that because they lived in Belize they could no longer donate in the states. That is not true. However, there are waiting periods. Below are up to date facts from both the American Red Cross and Canadian Blood Services. We were successful in getting a number of tourists in December because we informed them of the fact they cannot donate in the US & Canada for a year subsequent to visiting Belize.

American Red Cross – Wait 3 years after completing treatment for malaria. Wait 12 months after returning from a trip to an area where malaria is found. Wait 3 years after living in a country or countries where malaria is found.

Canadian Blood Services – Eligible to donate one year after departure from a malaria risk zone. Eligible to donate blood three years after living in a malaria-risk zone. Canada does utilize red cells, platelets and plasma if you have been in malaria-risk zone, less than six consecutive months.

* In both countries individuals who have contracted malaria cannot donate blood at all.

P.S – In case you do not know why building a healthy reserve of blood for the island is important, let me tell you why. If you get sick and end up in Belize City requiring blood, you have to produce the same amount of blood they will be using on you (does not matter what kind) before they will preform any surgical procedures. San Pedro Belize Red Cross wants to make sure that no one from Ambergris Caye who is in an emergency situation or otherwise is ever faced with having to wait to find blood before they are able get the help they need.

belize red cross
Lara from Romantic Travel Belize filling out her blood donor form.
donating blood in belize
Shirlee and Cindy with her just donated sticker.
san pedro belize red cross
Matt Red Cross Regional Director from Port of Spain Trinidad stopped by to say hi and meet SPBRC volunteers.

2 thoughts on “Pay it Forward and Important Information on Donating Blood in Belize

  1. Wendy Rechsteiner says:

    Since I have been coming to Belize about twice per year, I have been turned away from Red Cross blood donation in the US. I was able to donate once when it had been 13 months since my last trip. They still send me letters. I just don’t bother to go. You see, Ambergris Caye is “a malaria endemic area”. So, despite my A negative blood with no antibodies, they don’t want it.

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