Date
29 May 2017
Hong Kong has seen a decline in the number of first-time blood donors for over three years. Photo: HK Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service/Facebook
Hong Kong has seen a decline in the number of first-time blood donors for over three years. Photo: HK Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service/Facebook

First-time blood donor numbers continue to fall

The Hong Kong Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service (BTS) is said to have collected 261,000 units of blood during 2015, an increase of 2.8 percent compared to the previous year.

Despite the increase in blood supply, the number of first-time donors has continued to decline over the past three years, according to a Headline Daily report. 

Last year, there were 37,000 first-time blood donors, a decline of about ten percent compared to the figure three years earlier.

The number of 16-year-old first-time donors has dropped from around 10,000 three years ago to a little over 7,000 last year, representing a significant drop of 28.7 percent.

BTS Chief Executive and Medical Director Dr. Lee Cheuk Kwong said a drop in birth rate, as well as the education reform in recent years, were to blame for the declines.

According to government statistics, the number of births in Hong Kong has dropped from 59,000 in 1997 to 51,000 in 1999. The percentage of 16-year-olds taking part in blood donation has fallen from 16.8 to 13.9 percent during the same period.

Lee said the introduction of the so-called “334 scheme” in 2009, with three years of junior secondary education and three years of senior secondary education, has limited BTS teams from paying visits to schools to collect blood.

Some of the visits were arranged after January when most secondary six students were no longer in school as they were preparing for the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) examination, Lee added.

Hong Kong students are also becoming busier with a myriad of extra-curricular activities outside campus, making the BTS’ blood collection activities less effective.

As the number of births in 2000 has climbed up to 54,000, there could be more eligible blood donors when this group of people reaches 16 years in age this year.

Lee said the BTS is planning to launch a series of promotions this year in a bid to encourage at least one in every five students to donate blood.

Last year, the daily average number of blood donors was between 900 and 1,000.

The BTS is hoping the number could reach 1,100 this year as it seeks to maintain local self-sufficiency in blood supply.

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EL/AC/RC

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