Students from Duke-NUS engaging donors at the blood donation drive at Bloodbank@HSA

On 22 and 23 February, Duke-NUS medical student Mr Hema Prashaad and his fellow students from different MD and MD-PhD cohorts rolled up their sleeves to help blood donors at the Bloodbank@HSA, as part of a blood donation drive that they had organised for the Duke-NUS community of students, staff and faculty to donate their blood and save lives.

“When the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020, there were critical shortages of certain blood types,” said Mr Prashaad, one of the organisers of the event and President of Duke-NUS’ Class of 2025. “Even though the crisis was averted when Singaporeans stepped up to donate their blood, we need to educate the public about the importance of blood donation so that similar blood shortages do not arise again.”

The Duke-NUS student-organised donation drive was part of a larger effort to boost blood reserves and raise awareness of this precious resource undertaken by Singapore’s three medical school student bodies, the TriMedSoc Alliance. To ensure their project had the biggest impact possible, the organisers partnered another tertiary student-led organisation, Project Blood SG, which is a long-standing partnership between students and the Red Cross, to get the word out to the wider student community too.

The just over two-week long drive started at NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine’s campus on 15 February and ended at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine on 1 March.

For the Duke-NUS student organisers, it wasn’t just about the pints of blood donated. They also hoped that the drive would provide an opportunity for new donors to become familiar with the process of donating at a blood bank on their own.

“We hope that this event will allow our participants to familiarise themselves with donating at a blood bank so that they will be encouraged to continue donating on their own in the future,” explained Ms Katherine Nay Yaung, President of the Duke-NUS Student Council.

During the six days of the Duke-NUS leg of the event, which ran until 27 February, more than 30 members of the Duke-NUS community headed to the HSA’s building on the SGH Campus ready to donate their blood. After being assessed, a few were unable to donate because they had low levels of iron or did not meet one of the other criteria. Janessa Tan, a research assistant from Duke-NUS’ Emerging Infectious Diseases Programme, knows all about that.

“I couldn’t donate previously because I didn’t hit the required weight, but when I saw the students running the drive, I thought I’d come down and try,” said Ms Tan, who passed the assessment this time.

Reflecting on the potential impact of her donation, she said, “Every drop of blood counts, so who knows maybe my blood can save someone’s life.”

During every donation, about 8 to 12 per cent of a person’s blood volume is taken depending on their weight. And with each blood donation, up to three lives can be saved.

“I’m delighted to support our students for advocating such a humane cause that truly demonstrates many of our School’s values,” said Dr Suzanne Goh, Associate Dean of Student Affairs at Duke-NUS. “For the TriMedSoc Alliance to be on the lookout for preventing future shortages from happening in Singapore only speaks to the bright future in medicine that our next generation of forward-thinking clinicians will bring.”

To learn more about how and where to donate your blood, visit the HSA blood donation page and save three lives today.