Friday, 26 June 2015

New blood bank opens amid Jurong shopping malls

20-bed Westgate Tower facility hopes to attract more donors in the west
By Tee Zhuo, The Straits Times, 24 Jun 2015

A NEW blood bank in Jurong was opened officially yesterday to attract more donors living in the west of Singapore.

It is the Health Sciences Authority's (HSA's) highest-capacity satellite blood collection centre with 20 beds.

The facility at Westgate Tower is expected to serve up to 40 donors an hour and collect about 100 units of blood daily.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam opened the 506 sq m centre which has been operating since its soft launch last month.

Mr Tharman, who is also an MP for Jurong GRC, said current blood supplies are barely enough to meet demand.

Donating blood, he said, has to become a part and parcel of Singapore life. "When you grow up, you have to learn the importance of blood donation, and once past 16, it should be the norm for everyone to donate blood."

He noted that while blood donors make up about 3 per cent of most developed countries' populations, the percentage in Singapore is only 1.78 per cent.

Demand for blood has risen even as the pool of eligible donors shrinks due to an ageing population. The HSA estimates a 3 to 5 per cent rise in blood usage annually, while the number of blood donors has fallen from 70,824 in 2013 to 68,868 last year.

HSA chief executive Mimi Choong said the new centre aims to provide an accessible and convenient location for people living in the west, as well as to improve "surge capacity" during emergencies.

"We hope that the people who live, work, study and shop in the vicinity will come down and own this blood bank and consider it part of their local community," she added.

More than 40 organisations including firms such as M1 and ExxonMobil have pledged a total of 16,400 units of blood for the new facility, which will serve more than 18,000 current and past donors living in the west.

This is the HSA's third such centre, after Dhoby Ghaut and Woodlands. The main blood bank is at the HSA building in Outram.

The new centre is located in the heart of the shopping mall cluster surrounding the Jurong East interchange.

Mr Aldwin Teo, 46, has donated blood close to 50 times, since his national service days. He said the new centre is more convenient as it is just four MRT stops away from his home in Yew Tee.

"The new facility is much more spacious compared to Dhoby Ghaut, which is a bit cramped. It will help ease the crowd there," he noted.

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