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Shaggy says blood shortage affecting Ja

Your Health Your Wealth

BY ANIKA RICHARDS Observer staff reporter richardsai@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, January 07, 2014    

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INTERNATIONAL artiste Shaggy, the man behind the Shaggy Make a Difference Foundation that is geared towards raising funds to offset some of the needs of the Bustamante Hospital for Children in Kingston, said recently that a shortage of blood is another major problem affecting the country.

Since 2009, Shaggy whose given name is Orville Burrell, has raised US$2 million in support of the children's hospital through a charity concert. Just last weekend, the latest instalment of the charity concert was held, and though the final numbers on how much was raised are still out, the number of patrons who attended the event and the ticket sales are indications of just how well the event did this year.

But, according to Shaggy, another problem that should be addressed is the shortage of blood affecting the island.

"We have a very bad blood problem in Jamaica," Shaggy told a group of reporters at a Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange meeting held at the newspaper's headquarters on Beechwood Avenue in Kingston, recently. "Pickney a dead, people a dead, because dem nuh

have blood."

"We need this, we need blood," he said.

The entertainer, who is known for hits like Boombastic and It wasn't Me, said he will support anyone who is willing to take on the challenge to raise awareness surrounding this problem.

Shaggy admitted that he has been toying with the idea for a while, but would not be able to spearhead such an initiative because of his

current obligations with his foundation's effort to continue contributing to the Bustamante Hospital for Children.

"I guarantee that if people do a blood drive and really mobilise Jamaica, the problem can be fixed," Shaggy said, while adding that another problem is that many Jamaicans are afraid of needles, which is a deterrent to blood donation.

Igol Allen, blood donor organiser for the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS), more popularly known as the Blood Bank, told the Jamaica Observer in an interview yesterday that there may be other ways to do tests, but the needle is the only way to draw blood from donors.

He, however, welcomed the idea of partnering with an entertainer or anyone who would be willing to assist the NBTS, because the shortage of blood is a problem that the institution is constantly trying to remedy. Allen also supported Shaggy's claim that people have died simply because they did not have enough blood.

In December 2013, the Jamaica Observer spoke with Allen and he had reported then that the country's yearly target is 60,000 units of blood. At the time, however, the Blood Bank had collected only 29,000 units. This number was just below the 31,000 units of blood collected in 2012.

Allen told the Observer that the tally for the number of units of blood collected last year is not yet available, but that so far, with a goal of 3,000 units for January, the Blood Bank is on target.

He has also suggested a few ways in which entertainers or other popular people could assist the Blood Bank in meeting its yearly target, bringing them closer to ensuring that blood is always available when needed.

"We have our blood donor day coming up in June for which we need a face or a patron, somebody popular that people will rally around," Allen suggested.

Allen also posited that a day when an entertainer would visit the Blood Bank or one of its collection centres and have people come in to donate blood knowing that they will be able to rap with that entertainer for the day, or even visiting the alma mater of a popular personality to have a blood drive.

The word from the Blood Bank is that once someone has expressed an interest in assisting them in getting to a point where they can have a buffer stock, the Blood Bank will look at its calendar to see where there are planned blood drives and execute accordingly.

Allen said the Blood Bank is willing and ready to accept all the help it can get.

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