Blood Donation in Mexico: What It’s Like?

Thoughts on blood donation is not a regular thing for people – unless it is a part of your life. Just the same, not too many people people know much about what goes on in the community when it comes to blood donation. As part of the advocacy for blood donation, we have been posting articles on blood systems from several places with a hope that after being read will have more awareness.

This post is focused on the blood system in Mexico and the effect it has on those living in the area. Unlike most countries, Mexico blood supply is collected, stored and transfused by and in the hospitals. This kind of system is disorganized and spells an epic fail for patients and their families.

Without malice, this system is dysfunctional and costs lives. Several years ago, the effect of the system had caused a blood shortage. This is the reason why several citizens attempted to cross the border. This practice is not the best solution to stop the crisis but it’s their only way of getting fresh and clean blood supply for transfusion.

Mexican Blood Supply Crisis

The blood supply in Mexico is so low that it’s not enough to meet the needs of more than 1 million people. Back in 1999, there were 1,092,741 volunteer donors registered and was 65,488 less donors in 2 years time. The turn of the century recorded just 1,027,253 donors, which made the ratio of blood donation at 10 donors for every 1,000 people. 

Today, the of blood donors per populace is at 148 donors/ 10,000 people.

The Fuse for Hope

Several years ago a woman was brought in and diagnosed to be bleeding internally. Her son who brought her there was surprised that instead of getting papers to release bags of blood for his mother, he was told to look for the blood his mother needs to survive. Martin Gomez had called every hospital looking for type O negative blood his mother needs- her blood type is the rarest in that area. Disheartened he went to appeal for donors in television and radio shows where he was able to get 1 volunteer. Exhausting all efforts looking in Mexico he decided to cross the border and get the blood his mother needs in El Paso through the United Blood Services. Unfortunately despite succeeding in getting enough units of blood and smuggling it into Mexico, Martin’s mother died.

Martin now works for United Blood Services (UBS) and serves as a recruitment personnel for the non-profit organization. Despite the death of his mother, Martin is helping a northern Mexico blood bank fix the broken system. Through him and UBS, the received proper training and equipment that help make the state blood transfusion center continually gather volunteer donors.

Mexican Red Cross

Daniel Goñi, the president for the Mexican Red Cross strives hard to collect more blood units and get more regular donors. There are 60,000 lives to be saved and with enough blood supply there is less grieving to do.

In accidents alone, Mexico had 24,000 road accident fatalities for 2010. Trauma and these kinds of accidents clean out blood supply a hospital will have in stock.

The high rate of road crashes poses a serious public health problem in our country and disproportionally affects our children and youth. The most affected group is at the same time our strongest means to curb the disastrous trend – our youth and volunteers will remain the key to saving lives and contributing to national road safety prevention targets.” Goñi said.

Though road safety programs helped the fatalities tally drop 25% last year, Mexicans will still have to work on keeping supply full.

Today, the town of Chihuahua has the highest percentage of volunteer donors in Mexico. Blood drives focus on getting more college students volunteering and donating to make a stronger foundation for future donors. The Mexican blood supply system is going through revolutionary changes and successful blood drives is the start to battling blood shortage.

Blood Donation in Mexico

Blood Donation Facts of Mexico

Just like other blood donors in other countries, you’re allowed to give blood should you meet the requirements for blood donation.

The lower limit for donating blood is eighteen and the upper limit is 65. You should weigh 50 kg. but not more than 100 kg. Donating is easy, all you have to do is  present a photo ID (diver’s license, passport and voter’s card) to fill out a form. When the form is done, donors go through assessment before actual blood giving.

Click here for more information



NCBI – Safety of the Blood Supply in Latin America

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