Residents of the Virgin Islands often hear the call for help, circulated via ‘word of mouth’ or through WhatsApp text blasts with the caption, “URGENT: BLOOD IS NEEDED!

Blood is essential to life and health, and the Dr D. Orlando Smith Hospital has seen its fair share of accident victims, cancer patients or individuals who are seriously ill and need blood transfusions.  There is not a full-fledged blood bank at the Hospital to meet the needs of its patients. One of the major projects of the Rotary Club of Tortola in the current Rotary year is to   improve and upgrade the Hospital’s blood bank and storage facilities.

Ms Devye Nicholson, Laboratory Manager at the BVI Health Services Authority was the guest speaker at the Club’s luncheon meeting on 15th September 2022 to speak about the current state of the blood bank at the Hospital. She stated that blood donated to the Hospital must be sent to Puerto Rico for testing and preparation before it can be administered to patients. She said that most often when blood is needed, it has to be ordered from Puerto Rico at a cost of $1,800 per unit. Once ordered it takes an average of 1-2 weeks to receive the blood.

Ms Nicholson stated that having a larger blood storage unit and upgraded lab equipment will allow the Hospital to test blood locally and will mean a readily available blood supply to hand. In addition, it will significantly shorten the turnaround time to supply blood to needy patients and lengthen the blood’s storage before expiration.

 The Rotary Club of Tortola is currently raising money to fund the project. The first fundraiser was the recently concluded Grand Raffle with a cash prize of $20,000.  The final cash prize drawing was held last Friday 16th September 2022 at One Mart Supermarket. The lucky winner was Mrs Dawn Boyea. A second prize of $5,000 was drawn on 2 August during the August Festival horse races at Ellis Thomas Downs. Mr Ogan Baronville won that prize.  Two early bird drawings of $1,000 each were made in July and were won by Mrs Adeline Vanterpool and Ms Ayana Glasgow.

Net proceeds from the raffle totaled over $23,000, which will go a long way towards funding the Blood Bank project.

Club President Valerie Georges-Thomas expressed her delight with the outcome of the Grand Raffle stating that, “our Club members worked very hard on this fundraising venture and we are very happy to have succeeded in raising a significant amount of money which is all earmarked for the Blood Bank project. We remain steadfast in our plans to make this important upgrade to the Blood Bank a reality in this current Rotary year because it will hugely benefit every member of the community in a very tangible and meaningful way. No one knows when he or she may fall ill and will need blood. It is important that our health services are in a position to provide blood as needs demand.”

The Rotary Club of Tortola would like to thank the following persons who assisted and contributed significantly towards ticket sales and all the proceedings during the Grand Raffle: The BVI Horse Racing Association, the Virgin Islands Festival and Fairs Committee, One Mart Supermarket, Rite Way Food Markets, Clarence Thomas Limited, Bobby’s Supermarket, ticket sales vendors and the general public for supporting the raffle. 

The Rotary Club of Tortola meets every Thursday at 12:30 PM at Seven at the Pier, Cyril B Romney Pier Park Tortola.