Thu | Jul 2, 2020

A raving success - Doc Ravers Blood Drive pulls large number of donors

Published:Saturday | June 6, 2020 | 12:00 AMJamila Litchmore/Special Projects and Engagement Editor
Nurse Esther Campbell adjusts the lines of Alando Terrelonge, state minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information. Acknowledging the great need, Terrelonge said he would be back in the recommended time of three months to make another donation.

NINETY-SEVEN DONORS gave blood at the Doc Ravers Blood Drive organised by Dr Phillip Coombs.

The weekend event, held on May 23 and 30 at the Kiwanis Blood Collection Centre of the National Chest Hospital, was the first blood drive hosted by the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) since Jamaica recorded its first case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on March 10 and restrictions were placed on movement and public gatherings.

“Usually on a monthly basis, we’d have about 20-25 blood drives, we go to corporate entities, we go to high schools, we go to churches, however, with the restrictions on public gatherings, with COVID-19, all our blood drives for the month of March, April [and] May [were] cancelled. It means that there was a big, drastic drop in our reserve pool,” Dr Danielle Levy, a medical officer at the NBTS, told The Gleaner.

Dr Coombs, a surgical resident at the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH), saw first-hand the impact of the blood shortage on hospitals, patients and staff.

“To be really honest with you, we’ve noticed that a lot of patients, even at the hospital, they were having difficulties getting blood donations and because of that, they had to be staying inside of the hospital just waiting on blood. Even persons who were there for surgery, they had to be waiting for blood to be donated to them for them to have their surgeries done. They were just sitting on a bed. Because of that, the number of patients in the hospital, we noticed that it had increased,” said Dr Coombs.

Dubbed a ‘new normal’ blood drive, it saw donors making appointments via the NBTS’ new online appointment system and provided a well-needed shot in the arm for the Blood Bank which has been hit by a severe shortage. Moving forward, it will be a template for all other blood drives.

“All blood drives now you have to have an appointment, and you have the option to pre-register,” said Dr Levy, adding that the appointment system is an integral part of crowd control.


The online appointment system at offers online appointments for all collection centres islandwide.

Appointments are not the only adjusted protocol. While the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions has seen the NBTS go back to regular opening hours, rules of sanitisation and physical distancing still apply.

“We do make sure that everywhere is properly sanitised. Persons are sanitised at registration, and then they are sanitised at [the] medical interview. They are sanitised after they give blood and all donors, all staff, everybody is temperature checked on a daily basis,” said Dr Levy.

For the Doc Ravers Blood Drive, sponsor Clean Sweep sanitised chairs, door handles and beds between donations.

“[We] put in place certain measures for persons to have proper social distancing, wearing their mask when they come, proper sanitisation,” shared Dr Coombs.

State Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information Alando Terrelonge heard about the blood drive via social media where various videos, ads and endorsements, including from Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton and dancehall artiste Ding Dong, encouraged donors to set an appointment. The member of parliament for East Central St Catherine encouraged Jamaicans to be proactive and play their part in saving lives.

“I would encourage every single Jamaican, come out, give blood today because the lives you save could just be your own or your family member’s. Don’t wait until it’s too late,” said Terrelonge.

For entrepreneur Devon Smith, it was important to donate, not only to support his good friend Dr Coombs, but also to make a difference in the lives of others.

SAVE a life

“It’s a small thing to do, it doesn’t take a lot of time, but the potential reward is really good and you can save a life and that’s really the aim of it,” said Smith.

He has seen how difficult it is to organise replacement donors when family members and close friends in the hospital are in need of blood.

This sentiment was shared by Shachene Linton. The 31-year-old teacher and accountant, who normally donates when she can, was last Saturday at the Blood Bank with her twin sister as replacement donors.

“A family friend of mine got in an accident and I’m here to donate some blood for him,” shared Linton.

With a successful blood drive under his belt, Dr Coombs is already looking towards the future.

“We’re going to have a second blood drive because [we] understood how significant it is for just one bag of blood, to be donated, how much it can help somebody,” said Dr Coombs. “One single donation from an individual who donates just one bag of blood can actually save three lives. That’s how significant it is for persons to even just donate one pint.”

Sponsors of the Doc Ravers Blood Drive include, Jam Bites Catering, Romeich Entertainment, MDLink, Xpress Prints and Manufacturing, Jamaica Moves, Jeronimo’s Kitchen, Xaymaca International, SLEEK Jamaica and Clean Sweep.

To donate blood or learn more about the National Blood Transfusion Service, call (876) 630-1984. You may also visit or @1bloodbankja on Twitter and Instagram. Have a good story you’d like to share? Email us at



• National Blood Transfusion Services

• University Hospital of the West Indies

• National Chest Hospital

• Port Antonio Hospital

• St Ann’s Bay Hospital

• Falmouth Hospital

• May Pen Hospital

• Mandeville Regional Hospitalh

• Cornwall Regional Hospital

• Savanna-la-Mar Hospital