“Maraming nangangailangan ng dugo, na wala silang pambili, kaya kami nagdo-donate [nagbibigay] ng dugo.” This is why 44-year-old Elsie Enriquez, a resident of Brgy. Anos, decided to donate blood.
Enriquez was among the 62 volunteers who qualified to donate blood from the initial 89 individuals who were screened during the Dugong Bayani blood drive held on October 15, 2016 at the Los Baños Municipal Hall activity area.
Rizyl Alvarez, a nurse from the Los Baños Municipal Health Office (LBMHO), explained that Dugong Bayani is a blood drive conducted thrice a year. This is the third and last bloodletting activity for 2016. The first two blood drives were held last February and June. The next Dugong Bayani bloodletting activity is set for February 2017.
The Dugong Bayani was organized by the LBMHO or the Tanggapang Pangkalusugan through the activity coordinators Irene Lapitan Bautista and Aiza Quilloy Toledo, in partnership with the Philippine Blood Center (PBC), a unit under the Department of Health based in Quezon City. PBC is government unit that provides free blood for indigent patients.
The blood drive started 8am as donors arrived in groups including the Los Baños police force and servicemen stationed in Lalakay.
Dugong Bayani Coordinator Irene Bautista explained that, “magandang programa siya kasi marami kaming natutulungan, lalong-lalo na maraming nagkakasakit sa dengue. So di ba kapag nagbibigay tayo ng dugo, alam na alam natin na yung dugo na ‘yun ay may matutulungan, may masasagip na buhay.” Aside from the health benefits of donating blood, the donors received certificates, free food, and souvenirs.
The blood donors were aged 18-60 years, weighed at least 50kg, and were considered generally healthy. Most participants shared that they are satisfied as long as they are able to help. “’Di naman kailangan ng kapalit. Ang mahalaga nakatulong ka,” said 31-year-old serviceman Jo Mark Lopez from Camp General Macario Sacay, formerly called Camp Eldridge, in Lalakay, Los Baños.
The LBMHO sent letters to the municipal- and barangay-level offices, police station, military camp, and schools to invite people to take part in the blood drive. Posters were also put up in public places and the Dugong Bayani was also promoted through the social media.
Regular blood donor Randolph Batoy Tolentino, who works at the Los Banos Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office, explained that he decided to take part in the activity to help people in need of the rare AB+ blood. Tolentino added that aside from being able to help, donating makes the blood cleaner and healthier.
According to Ann Loraine Penales, a PBC nurse, potential blood donors undergo four steps to donate blood, namely: (1) the registration, (2) vital signs check, (3) health consultation, and (4) blood screening. Not all volunteers however, qualify as blood donors. Some volunteers are deemed unqualified to donate blood usually because of a low hemoglobin count.
The October 15 bloodletting activity produced 62 bags of blood, which was turned over to the PBC office in Quezon City.
Dugong Bayani was coined during the blood drive in 2014 emphasizing that blood donors are considered as heroes too, being able to save lives with their blood. The Dugong Bayani blood drive is an activity organized by the local government of Los Baños, through the LBMHO headed by Dr. Alvin A. Isidoro, the municipal health officer, in partnership with the Philippine Blood Center.