Rotary District 7020 Governor Deborah Howell (fourth from left), who visited the territory last week, poses with Rotarians and officials from the BVI Health Services Authority. The Rotary Club of Tortola recently raised $45,000 to augment the BVIHSA’s blood bank laboratory services. (Photo: PROVIDED)

With the help of its annual Grand Raffle, the Rotary Club of Tortola raised $45,000 for the purchase of equipment to expand the blood bank laboratory services at the BVI Health Services Authority, the club announced Friday.

The project was launched after former Deputy Premier Dr. Kedrick Pickering spoke to the club in the spring about maternal health, noting that the Dr. D. Orlando Smith Hospital faces challenges with the rapid availability of blood and blood products such as plasma, according to a press releasee from the club.

Rotarians proceeded to work with the BVIHSA and the BVI Red Cross to assess the equipment and training needed to expand the laboratory, which is moving to a larger space.

Acting BVIHSA CEO Dr. June Samuel said the equipment to be purchased with the funding will increase the laboratory’s capacity to have units of blood immediately available and will allow for blood components such as plasma and platelets to be extracted locally, thereby reducing potential wastage, according to Rotary.

“This expansion comes at an opportune time as the laboratory is actively working on achieving certification early in the New Year,” Dr. Samuel said, adding, “The BVIHSA is focused on expanding and im- proving its services, and partners such as the Rotary Club of Tortola will help us to meet these goals.”

Through its annual raffle, the club netted about $25,000 after payment of prizes, it stated.

“This project will have tremendous impact on the community, as it will enable the hospital laboratory to better serve its patients with new capacity to test blood locally before use in patients and expanded capacity to store blood so that there is a greater supply to more readily meet patient needs,” club President Valerie Georges Thomas said, adding, “We are ready to proceed to the stage of ordering the equipment and getting it shipped on island.”

District governor visits

On Friday, Rotary District 7020 Governor Deborah Howell visited the territory and toured the new space the laboratory will occupy, according to the club.