In the States and Canada the hospitals and health care systems have a pretty large supply of blood and donors to handle most emergencies for donors of multiple blood types. Blood donation is something that many people do regularly, which helps keep the blood stocks at reasonable levels.
Here in our part of Mexico blood donation is minimal, which causes blood stocks to be very low. This can probably be attributed to lack of knowledge about blood banks or lack of transportation to make a donation.
One of our editors has first hand knowledge of this lack of supply. A family member was taken to the hospital and in need of multiple units of blood, but the hospital could only supply one unit with no promise of when they could get more. In the end they played it safe and just flew their family member to the States where there was a known supply. She had A negative blood which is very rare in native Mexicans. Less than 5% of the Mexican population has A negative or O negative (the only two types she could receive).
Even more recently we encountered another incident, some friends of one of our editors had complications during childbirth. The mother was in desperate need of blood to recover, but hospital supplies were very low. As a result, an emergency blood drive was organized to help replenish the supply and allow the hospital to release more blood to her.
The mother will be fine, but last minute blood drives are not a good solution for emergency situations. The donation and safety screening process takes 24-48 hours. This means that if someone is in dire need of blood, it could be over 2 days before they get blood from someone who donates – and that might be too long.
What can I do?
So you may be asking, how can I avoid a situation like this if I’m ever in need of critical medical attention while living or visiting locally?
The best thing to do is donate blood whenever you can. Donations help keep the blood bank supplied.
For our non-Mexican readers, keep in mind that the blood types that are common for locals may not be the same blood types that are common for Gringos. You might have a blood type that is rare in this region and very much needed.
Also, if you can give regularly it can help make blood more readily available to you or your family. The blood bank has a regular donors program that gives you credit at the blood bank. This credit can be used for you or any immediate family members.
Donations are made at Hospital General in Playa del Carmen. You can find a map and more information HERE
Donations can be made every 90 days for men and every 120 days for women.
There is a laundry list of qualifying questions they will ask, but as long as you know ahead of time it is pretty simple. So we compiled a list for you:
- Between the ages of 18 and 65
- Weigh more than 50 kilos (110 lbs)
- Haven’t donated blood in the last 90 days
- Aren’t on any medications
- Do not currently have a cold, cough, diarrhea, or other general sickness
- Have not had a major surgery in the last 6 months
- Do not have hypertension, epilepsy, heart disease, diabetes, or high cholesterol
- Haven’t consumed alcohol the day before donating and don’t often drink to excess
- Do not smoke
- Haven’t had more than 1 sexual partner in the last 1 year
- Do not do any drugs (pot counts)
- Do not have Hepatitis
- Haven’t gotten any tattoos/piercings in the last 2 years
- Have not had acupuncture in the last year.
- Haven’t consumed fatty/greasy food the night prior to donating
- Must fast for at least 4 hours but not more than 8-10 hours before donating
Additional Requirements for Females
- Aren’t lactating
- Haven’t been pregnant for at least 6 months (and are not currently pregnant)
On the plus side, they won’t ask you if you have been to Mexico like they do in the United States! This AkumalNow contributor wasn’t able to give blood in the States for the last 5 years of living there because the donation center would not allow it if you traveled to the Yucatan in the last 2 years. Here, we need good blood regardless of where you are from, so please donate, and do so regularly. Your donations will save lives.
The donation center is open Monday – Friday from 7:00am to 9:30am and on weekends from 7:00am to 10:00am. Bring either your valid Passport or a valid Mexican government issued photo ID. The hospital is VERY air conditioned, so wear your pants and shoes instead of shorts and sandals. The first time you donate they will take a blood sample to make sure your blood is safe, ask you the qualifying questions and get you set up in the system. It could take over an hour, especially if someone has organized an emergency blood drive at the same time. So make sure you don’t have a tight schedule when you go.