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Maltese Blood Bank History

2011- 2020

A new Malta Blood Donation Support Group was created by Mr Stephen Brincat, a sports photographer, whose aim is to encourage and educate people, especially those who​ are involved in sports. The support group website was
It-TorcaSunday Times 
Images courtesy of it-Torca Press and Sunday Times.
On the occasion of World Blood Donors Day 2011, the National Blood Transfusion Service organized a reception for members of the media to show gratitude and to thank them for their help in times of needs/crises. For this occasion, the President of Malta H.E. Dr. George Abela together with the Minister of Health Dr. Joe Cassar were invited. During this occasion, the Minister of Health stated that regular donors will be given the flu vaccine for free at the national blood transfusion centre by appointment.
During this year, an irradiation machine was bought so that blood which needs to be irradiated prior to being given to the patient, can be done at the department instead of sending it to Boffa Hospital as was the practice. This has helped in reducing the time to issue this type of blood when needed.
The National Blood Transfusion Department introduced the use of paediatric blood bags. This involves that the red blood cells bag is further divided into smaller bags made especially for paediatric use as these patients need to be transfused with less volume than adults.
Pedi Bags

In its continuous effort to provide the best possible service to donors, the National Blood Transfusion Service setup a wi-fi system at the donation area for the benefit of all donors who might need to have internet access while donating blood.​
The 10,000th blood donation was bled on the Blood Mobile Unit since it was refurbished in February 2009. Since then the mobile unit has been used 684 times. Mr Aldo Busuttil was the 10,000th blood donor; he explained his satisfaction of being a regular blood donor since he is helping those who are in great need of blood.
Donor donating blood
Photograph by DOI
As from this year, a Donation Centre at Mater Dei Hospital started to operate from the 21st May. 
New aphaeresis machines for Single Platelet Donation were installed.  These allowed the production of a double dose.
A research study about the History of Blood Banking in Malta was conducted by Claudine Balzan who works as a nurse at the National Blood Transfusion Service. This was published in the Maltese Medical Journal. Subsequently, the History of Blood Banking in Malta was launched and is being kept updated on the departments’ website.
During this year the department launched it’s official Facebook page together with a new app, where any eligible Maltese citizen may register as a possible blood donor, (Malta today, June 30, 2013).
Malta today 2013

Blood collection at Gozo General Hospital has been relocated to the Out-Patients Department in October of this year. It will open every alternate Sunday, between 8.30 am till 1.00 pm.  An explanation letter has been sent to all Gozitans. 
As from this year, a license for a new product, washed red cells, was successfully applied for.
As from this year, blood collection at Gozo General Hospital started to be done also every alternate Tuesdays between 1.00 pm and 5.00 pm.
An extension of the blood donation processing centre was inaugurated by Parliamentary Secretary for Health Dr. Chris Fearne.
During this year, the National Blood Transfusion Service launched the Say Thank You campaign,
• to raise appreciation amongst patients and relatives, especially those who received blood transfusions;
• to encourage patients’ relatives and friends to donate blood;
• where possible to encourage patients themselves to become future blood donors following their complete recovery from accidents, trauma, major surgery and others.
Say Thank you campaign

On the occasion of World Blood Donors Day 2014, a feast was organized, for all blood donors, were Her Excellency Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, President of Malta and His Excellency Archbishop Mons. Paul Cremona O.P. visited the feast.  In her speech, H.E. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca emphasized the importance of donating blood in order to save lives. She also thanked all donors who brought their children with them as they were setting a good example of this noble act to their children so in future they could become donors as well.
WBDD 2014
Photo Courtesy of Photocity Malta
WBDD was organized also in Gozo on the 22nd of June, for the first time.
Parliamentary Secretary for Health Chris Fearne today visited the Blood Donation Centre at Gwardamangia during a blood drive held in collaboration with the Life Cycle Challenge Team. Dr. Fearne took the opportunity to register himself as an organ donor.
 Dr. Ferne registering himself as organ donor
The activity is being held to raise awareness about the needs of renal patients who require between 5-10% of the blood collected by the national blood bank. Visitors are also being encouraged to enlist as organ donors. During the visit, Chris Fearne praised the work done by the National Blood Transfusion Service, the Renal Unit and the constant support organisations like Life Cycle give to patients. He invited more people to come forward to donate blood and take up the call of becoming organ donors. The Life Cycle Challenge Team will be living for Japan in the coming days for this year's Life Cycle.
Life Cycle Challenge poster

‘Thank You For Saving My Life’ was this year’s theme for World Blood Donor’s Day chosen by WHO. On this occasion, Her Excellency The President of Malta Marie Louise Coleiro Preca presented a recognition award to 16 Blood Donors who have been donating blood and saving lives for quite a number of years.  This was the first time that such an award was presented to blood donors by the President of the Republic.
During the ceremony 24-year-old Claudine Muscat who has been receiving blood regularly since she was a toddler, expressed her gratitude to all blood donors for keeping her alive.
This ceremony has been organised by the National Blood Transfusion Department at the Presidential Palace in Valletta. The 16 Blood donors who were awarded were:- Joseph Baldacchino, Doris Mallia, Joseph Debattista, Jane D’Alfonso, Iseo Pavanello, Rita Debono, Charles Bianco, Mary Rose Grech, Joseph Grima, Grace Zahra, Raymond Grech, Catherine Fleri Soler, Godfrey Aquilina, Mary Doris Fenech, Christopher Azzopardi and Joseph Cassar. Read more.
WBDD 2015 

Screening for the West Nile Virus commenced during this year.
Minister of Health Dr. C. Ferne on his visit to the National Blood Transfusion Department, stated that blood will be frozen for 10 years for such cases where they have rare blood type. Read more​
For the second consecutive year, Her Excellency The President of Malta Marie Louise Coleiro Preca presented a recognition award to 17 Blood Donors who donated blood regularly in these last years. Read more
WBDD 2016

A new milestone was reached during this year by the commencement of red cell freezing which allows the department to store units with very rare blood types for years (minimum 10 years). Read more​
Was a busy year in the preparatory work for obtaining a licence in Cornea Banking.  One of our scientists Kurt Dimech was heavily involved in the hands-on of the project and also received the necessary training which is envisaged to continue in 2018.
Two members of staff Sylvana Abela from Donation Area and Janice Barbara Gatt from Donor Serology Lab after receiving the relevant training has obtained a certification as NBTS Health and Safety Officers.
An updated version of the leaflet with the name 'Titħajjar tagħti d-Demm' has been issued this year.
Our department doctors have issued a leaflet with the name 'Iron and You' and a sheet titled 'Iron Rich Food' to serve as a guide for donors.

This Years' theme for World Blood Donors Day was 'Don't wait until disaster strikes. What can you do? Give Blood, Give Now, Give Often' were Vietnam was the country who hosted the event.

On this occasion Her Excellency The President of Malta Marie Louise Coleiro Preca presented a recognition award to 13 Blood Donors who have been donating blood and saving lives for quite a number of years.  These were:- ​Brincat Ivan, Frendo Ernest, Lia Francis, Muscat Anthony, Gauci Carmelo, Galea Carmelo, Muscat Antoine, Busuttil Ray, Buġeja Carmen, Buġeja Georġina, Camilleri Josephine, Farrugia Josephine, Vella Rita Read more​
 WBDD 2017

This year started with the commencement of a New Equipment Management Programme named Clingo to be in line with EU Directive 2005/62, that states that all equipment shall be validated, calibrated and maintained to suit its intended purpose. Operating instructions shall be available and appropriate records kept. 

In early March, the first corneas were retrieved and banked under the new licensing arrangements. 
A new dispensary in Xewkija Gozo has been inaugurated in May.  This is also going to serve as a place for blood donation sessions were donors can donate blood every alternate Tuesday between 1,00p.m. and 5,00 p.m. and alternate Sunday between 8.30 a.m. till 1.00 p.m. Read more​
Xewkija BergaXewkija Berga 
This year Mr. Joe Baldacchino has donated his 140th blood donation, making him the donor with the highest amount of donations ever recorded. Read more
Mr. Baldacchini donating his 140th donation 
'Be there for someone else.  Give Blood. Share Life.'  was the theme chosen for this Years' WBDD​hosted in Greece.  In Malta, each year, about 7 male donors donate for their 100th blood donation whilst 5 females make their 50th blood donation.  This has been recognized by  Her Excellency The President of Malta Marie Louise Coleiro Preca where she presented a recognition award to 13 Blood Donors who have been donating blood and saving lives for quite a number of years.  These were -Abela Consiglio, Borġ Raymond, Cassar Albert, Fenech Salvu, Gauci Robert, Micallef Engerer John, Micallef Joseph, Bondin Marvi, Buttiġieġ Maria Annunziata, Filletti Carmen, Mifsud Antoinette, Sapiano Mary Josephine, Sciberras Maria Concetta.  The event took place at San Anton Gardens. Read more
WBDD 2018
For the first time, our department was part of a series of events for adults, that Esplora Interactive Science Centre in Kalkara is performing with the name Bloody Late.  The event featured workshops from donation to patient, the blood circulatory system and blood compatibility, together with an exhibition highlighting the work carried out by the National Blood Transfusion Service​. Read more​
Bloody Late poster

Deputy Prime Minister Chris Ferne inaugurated the newly refurbished blood mobile donation unit. Read more 
​ Refurbished Blood Mobile unit

This year was a very busy and hectic year for the National Blood Transfusion Department.

A memorandum was signed between the local councils and the National Blood Transfusion Service.
Signing memorandum between  local councils and NBTS 

‘Safe Blood for all’ was this year’s theme for World Blood Donor’s Day chosen by WHO, which was hosted by Rwanda. On this occasion, His Excellency The President of Malta George Vella presented a recognition award to 17 Blood Donors who have been donating blood and saving lives for quite a number of years.  These were Joanna Abela, Rita Azzopardi, Martin Bugelli, Susanne Bonnici, Jimmy Sammut, Josette Farrugia, Lawrence Gialanze, Margaret Galea, Anthony Deguara, Doris Grima, Paul Deguara, Maria Portelli, Alfred Calleja, Mary Sant, Stephen Vella, Joanna Pecorella and Anna Zammit.​ Read more.

WBDD 2019 
Photo Courtesy of OPR

WBDD 2019
Photo Courtesy of OPR

This ceremony has been organised by the National Blood Transfusion Department at the Verdala Palace in Buskett
During this year another milestone was reached with the introduction of the NAT-Testing (Nucleic Acid Test) and the testing for the West Nile Virus.

H.E. The President of Malta George Vella, visited the National Blood transfusion Department Read More
A visit by the president of Malta and Deputy Prime Minister 

The departments' database system has been upgraded to eProgesa v5.0.3.  This also brought the introduction of ISBT labelling (International Society of Blood Transfusion)

Apart from these, the questionnaire​ was also updated to cover the changes that took place.
An updated version of the Thank You leaflet, Becoming a Blood Donor​ and  'Titħajjar tagħti d-Demm' leaflets, have been published this year.  Also another two leaflets 'Iron and You' - 'Int u l-Ħadid​' have been written to guide donors about the importance of maintaining good iron stores in their blood.

Ms. Caroline Cassar has been appointed as the department's new Data Protection Officer.  She will be taking over from Mr. Kevin Valletta, who previously held this position for quite a number of years.  New Data Protection Policies have been issued according to GDPR.  This together with information regarding GDPR and Freedom Of Information Act can be found on this website by clicking here.

It was also agreed, this year, that the Blood Bank will be expanding its role by establishing a Centre for Blood, Tissue and Cells after funds have been obtained from the EU.  The construction of this new centre is expected to start early next year (Read more Budget Speech 2019 pg 88)​.

The pandemic
This year was a very challenging one.  Like the rest of the world, Malta was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, which also left its impact on the National Blood Transfusion Service, Read more​.   Several measures were taken to safeguard the wellbeing of both donors and staff, such as strict observation of disinfection techniques, wearing of masks/visors, as well as social distancing during blood collection sessions at all of our sites. We are thankful for the continual support from donors, who, despite the hardships, remained loyal to our patients and still enabled us to provide a sustainable supply of blood to our hospitals. 

With the great challenges of the pandemic came an opportunity to further help the Maltese population.  Thus, the NBTS embarked on a new project to harvest COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma (CCP). This ‘special’ component was to be used to help patients recover from COVID, in the light of a vaccine not being available in the early months of 2020, Read More​.
                     Convalascent Plasma DonorConvalascent Plasma

Official visit
The Maltese Prime Minister Dr Robert Abela visited the National Blood Transfusion Service where he met all the members of staff. He expressed his appreciation for the department’s work in continuously striving to provide a safe and sustainable supply of blood and blood products, even during difficult times such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

 World Blood Donor Day 
The theme for World Blood Donor Day (WBDD) as chosen by WHO for 2020 was 'Safe Blood Saves Lives', using the slogan 'Give Blood and Make the World a Healthier Place'. Access to safe and quality assured blood and blood products are needed every day everywhere around the world. The thought behind this campaign was to focus on the commitment individuals can make to improve the wellbeing of others by becoming blood donors. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony that is usually organised for WBDD, were H.E. the President of Malta gives a recognition award to regular blood donors, could not take place. Instead, a video was prepared to deliver a meaningful message by H.E. the President of Malta Dr George Vella, and also by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Health Dr Chris Fearne for this occasion.

Quality Award
Another achievement for the NBTS during 2020 was that of the Quality Award. This is a distinction awarded to departments and entities within the Public Administration whose service delivery to customers reaches the highest standards as defined through the four pillars, Read more​.   

 The quality award logo
Dr Alex Aquilina (Medical Director) received the award on behalf of NBTS from H.E. the President of Malta Dr George Vella during a ceremony held at Verdala Palace in September. Dr Aquilina commented: “I am proud to lead the team at NBTS; I urge all staff to be also proud and show this in their attitude to colleagues and to their work, whatever the chores and challenges are”, Read more​.

Dr Aquilina receiving  the quality award
Appointments System
The NBTS IT and Donation Area sections worked to establish a programme within the department’s database, to enable the setting up of an appointments system for donors. This was launched towards the end of 2020, and is aimed at providing increased efficiency of service for donors, as well as a more sustainable blood supply with scheduled donations.