Blood donation drive



An emergency blood collection service was started in Singapore in 1939 as war loomed in the Pacific. By 1941, there were thousands of blood donors registered.1 The Singapore Blood Transfusion Service (SBTS), however, was formed only in June 1946 after the Japanese Occupation of Singapore (1942–45).

Formation of Singapore Blood Transfusion Service
Established in June 1946, the SBTS was initially housed at the General Hospital on Outram Road. It started with two female volunteers, and appointed its first fulltime medical officer in 1948.2


The SBTS operated on the basis of voluntary blood donation, with beverages like coffee, milk and beer provided at its donation sessions.3 In its first year, a modest 287 units of blood were collected.4

Early years
Despite persuasion by community leaders, such Lee Kong Chian and Tay Lian Teck, the general population believed that blood donation would damage their health and were thus reluctant to give blood. The SBTS was therefore highly dependent on donations from the British military.5


In 1949, a mobile blood collection unit was formed to enable donors to give blood near their homes or at their workplaces. The following year, the SBTS began giving out certificates, badges and medals to recognise its regular donors.6

The SBTS launched many campaigns to promote blood donation in the 1960s. Free beer and cigarettes were given to donors, and lucky draws were conducted. Appeals for blood donation were also made through the newspapers, radio, cinemas and television.7

Later years

In 1965, the SBTS introduced a scheme of medical benefits as an incentive for regular blood donation.8 From 1966, annual award presentations were held to recognise regular donors. The award was extended to organisations in 1993.9

In 1978, SBTS started tele-recruitment to encourage donors to continue giving blood and remind them of their next appointment.10

On 18 March 1984, the Singapore Red Cross Blood Centre at Penang Lane was opened to assist the SBTS in blood collection.11

The SBTS shifted to the new National Blood Centre on Outram Road on 22 April 1988. The building was equipped with advanced computerised blood management system and state-of-the-art blood testing laboratories.12 When the SBTS became part of the newly formed Health Sciences Authority on 1 April 2001, it was renamed Centre for Transfusion Medicine. That same day, the Singapore Red Cross was appointed the National Blood Donor Recruiter by the Health Sciences Authority.13

Emergency readiness
On 12 October 1978, an explosion on Greek oil tanker Spyros at the Jurong Shipyard killed 76 and injured 69. Thousands of donors came forward and the SBTS collected a record 2,988 units of blood within the first three days. More than half were first-time donors. Following the collapse of Hotel New World on 15 March 1986, the SBTS operated round the clock and collected 3,054 units of blood.14

Since 1986, the SBTS and the Singapore Civil Defence Force have conducted numerous national and sectoral emergency blood collection exercises, so as to ensure their emergency readiness.15



Author

Joshua Chia Yeong Jia



References
1. Ong, Y. W. (1982). The development of blood services in Singapore. Annals of the Academy of Medicine Singapore, 11(3), 411–417, p. 412. (Call no.: RSING 610.5 AMSAAM)
2. Singapore Blood Transfusion Service. (1997). Singapore Blood Transfusion Service: 50[th] anniversary: 1946–1996. Singapore: Author, pp. 8–9. (Call no.: RSING 362.1784 SIN)
3. Singapore Blood Transfusion Service. (1997). Singapore Blood Transfusion Service: 50[th] anniversary: 1946–1996. Singapore: Author, pp. 8–9. (Call no.: RSING 362.1784 SIN)
4. Kwa, S. B. (1989). Development of the blood transfusion and clinical haematology services in Singapore. Annals of the Academy of Medicine Singapore, 18(4), 490–493, p. 490. (Call no.: RSING 610.5 AMSAAM)
5. Kwa, S. B. (1989). Development of the blood transfusion and clinical haematology services in Singapore. Annals of the Academy of Medicine Singapore, 18(4), 490–493, p. 491. (Call no.: RSING 610.5 AMSAAM); Singapore Blood Transfusion Service. (1997). Singapore Blood Transfusion Service: 50[th] anniversary: 1946–1996. Singapore: Author, p. 9. (Call no.: RSING 362.1784 SIN)
6. Singapore Blood Transfusion Service. (1997). Singapore Blood Transfusion Service: 50[th] anniversary: 1946–1996. Singapore: Author, p. 9. (Call no.: RSING 362.1784 SIN)
7. Kwa, S. B. (1989). Development of the blood transfusion and clinical haematology services in Singapore. Annals of the Academy of Medicine Singapore, 18(4), 490–493, p. 492. (Call no.: RSING 610.5 AMSAAM)
[8. Ong, Y. W. (1982). The development of blood services in Singapore. Annals of the Academy of Medicine Singapore, 11(3), 411–417, p. 413. (Call no.: RSING 610.5 AMSAAM)
9. Singapore Blood Transfusion Service. (1997). Singapore Blood Transfusion Service: 50[th] anniversary: 1946–1996. Singapore: Author, pp. 24–25. (Call no.: RSING 362.1784 SIN)
10. Singapore Blood Transfusion Service. (1997). Singapore Blood Transfusion Service: 50[th] anniversary: 1946–1996. Singapore: Author, p. 12. (Call no.: RSING 362.1784 SIN)
11. Singapore Blood Transfusion Service. (1997). Singapore Blood Transfusion Service: 50[th] anniversary: 1946–1996. Singapore: Author, p. 17. (Call no.: RSING 362.1784 SIN)
12. Singapore Blood Transfusion Service. (1997). Singapore Blood Transfusion Service: 50[th] anniversary: 1946–1996. Singapore: Author, p. 26. (Call no.: RSING 362.1784 SIN)
13. Centre for Transfusion Medicine. (n.d.). Retrieved 2017, May 30 from Health Sciences Authority website: http://www.hsa.gov.sg/content/dam/HSA/Publications/annualreport/annualreportfy2001_2002/ctm.pdf; Singapore Red Cross Society. (2017). Blood donor recruitment programme. Retrieved 2017, May 30 from Singapore Red Cross website: https://www.redcross.sg/our-services/blood-donor-recruitment-programme.html; Health Sciences Authority. (2014). About Blood Services Group (BSG). Retrieved 2017, May 30 from Health Science Authority website: http://www.hsa.gov.sg/content/hsa/en/Blood_Services/About_Blood_Services_Group.html
14. Singapore Blood Transfusion Service. (1997). Singapore Blood Transfusion Service: 50[th] anniversary: 1946–1996. Singapore: Author, pp. 14, 18. (Call no.: RSING 362.1784 SIN); Committee of Inquiry into the Explosion and Fire on Board S.T. Spyros. (1979). Preface. In The explosion and fire on board S.T. Spyros, 12th October 1978: The inquiry report. Singapore: Ministry of Labour. (Call no.: RSING 623.83 SIN)
15. Singapore Blood Transfusion Service. (1997). Singapore Blood Transfusion Service: 50[th] anniversary: 1946–1996. Singapore: Author, p. 18. (Call no.: RSING 362.1784 SIN)



The information in this article is valid as at 2007 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Public health
Health and medicine>>Human anatomy and physiology>>Blood and circulation
Blood donors--Singapore
Politics and Government>>Health