Objective: The aim of this study is to investigate the effect of a public appeal to encourage voluntary blood donation by comparing the pattern of blood donations in 2000 and 2007.
Methods: A retrospective analysis of blood donation records was conducted at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) Blood Collection Centre from April to December of 2000 and 2007. Data were analysed to identify any significant changes in donation patterns and donor profiles.
Results: The total number of blood donor records reviewed was 3194 in 2000 and 2634 in 2007 representing 69.0% and 72.3% of the total blood donations, respectively. Autologous donations accounted for 1% in 2000 and 2.2% in 2007; however, there was no corresponding change in voluntary donations (3.4% in 2000 and 3.2% in 2007). Despite a reduction in the number of first-time donors (1539 in 2000 and 1115 in 2007), the percentage of units discarded for the presence of a marker of transfusion transmission infection (TTI) increased, being 6.5% in 2000 and 7.4% in 2007. Human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV) was the most common infectious marker in 2000 (3.4% of donors) whereas reactive Venereal Disease Research Laboratory (VDRL) predominated in 2007 (3.6% of donors).
Conclusion: The per capita donations (0.99% in 2000 and 0.88% in 2007) failed to meet the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation for an adequate blood supply of 1–3%. Despite a national effort to improve voluntary donations, the positive changes in the pattern of blood donation over a period of seven years were limited to a decrease in the proportion of first-time donors and an increase in blood donors with one to four previous donations.