In response to the urgent need to replenish the blood supply at the Philippine Red Cross–and contribute to the treatment of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients–San Miguel Corporation (SMC) has launched a quarterly blood and convalescent plasma donation drive across its facilities nationwide. SMC, which is marking its 130th anniversary, is the first private company in the country to undertake such an initiative with the Red Cross.
“Fewer people are donating blood since the pandemic started to date, yet there is a growing demand for blood to be able to perform transfusions needed in emergent cases. I can’t think of a more meaningful way to mark San Miguel’s 130th anniversary than to help replenish the Philippine Red Cross’ blood bank. While we’re still dealing with a pandemic, many more non-COVID-19 patients are in need of blood to get the care they need,” SMC president and COO Ramon S. Ang, who will donate blood for the launch (Sept 18), said.
“This is a San Miguel group-wide effort that we will do every quarter. Our employees across the country are encouraged to donate.”
Blood donations are commonly used in the treatment of cancer patients, accident victims, and people with blood disorders. Dengue season has also set in, and PRC’s blood reserves also play a vital role in treating dengue patients.
“We just want to help in any way we can. This is a San Miguel group-wide effort that we will do every quarter. Our employees across the country are encouraged to donate. I believe, together, we can all make a difference,” Ang added.
Meanwhile, extracting convalescent plasma from a person who has recovered from COVID-19, then transfusing it into a patient still battling the virus, has proven to be a valuable alternative therapy.
People who have recovered from COVID-19 and who volunteer to donate convalescent plasma have a unique ability to help up to three patients currently suffering from the virus.
“We feel very honored to be supporting and collaborating with the Philippine Red Cross and Senator Richard Gordon on their efforts to help not just COVID-19 patients but also the many other patients who require blood for various purposes. We hope that through this partnership we can contribute to efforts to save lives,” said Ang.
The drive was launched simultaneously via ZOOM in six different SMC facilities around the country.
Among these were the Purefoods Hormel Plant in General Trias, Cavite; the Manila Toll Expressway Systems, Inc. facility in Silangan Laguna, San Miguel Brewery’s community clinics in San Fernando, Pampanga; Mandaue, Cebu, and Sta. Cruz, Davao Del Sur, and the SMC Head Office Complex in Mandaluyong, Metro Manila.
Ang donated blood simultaneously with PRC Chairman and CEO Senator Richard Gordon, in their respective offices. The event was participated in by over 400 SMC employees.
The company has also spent close to P100 million to operate Better World EDSA, a COVID-19 testing lab dedicated to helping the country meet its expanded testing goals and ensuring a safer restart of the economy.
Each participant underwent a physical assessment and blood and plasma screening PRC prior to the launch.
“We also want to help address the stigma of testing positive for COVID-19. As we’ve seen, anyone can contract the virus. When you treat someone like an outcast just because they’ve contracted the virus, you not only treat that person unfairly, you make it less likely for people to come forward and test, or quarantine. I hope our employees who have recovered will donate plasma and see this as an opportunity to help others who are still fighting it,” said Ang.
Since March, when community quarantine restrictions were implemented across the country, SMC has led private sector response to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the health sector.
Out of the over P13 billion the company spent on COVID-19 efforts, P500 million was used to purchase personal protective equipment (PPEs) and various life-saving medical equipment. It also donated testing booths and kits to Metro Manila LGUs.
The company has also spent close to P100 million to operate Better World EDSA, a COVID-19 testing lab dedicated to helping the country meet its expanded testing goals and ensuring a safer restart of the economy. It has also provided 5,000 medical front liners in Cebu with life insurance worth P2 million each.
Most recently, Ang also announced plans to build, through the RSA Foundation, a state-of-the-art hospital to better prepare the country’s health care system to deal with a health crisis. The hospital will specialize in research on infectious diseases and put special focus on providing outpatient care for disadvantaged Filipinos.