Collapse of Blood Banks – Calls for Urgent Camps

  • According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), US, the number of blood donors across the globe has dropped 67% due to COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Acute shortage of blood has hit the blood banks with cancellation of blood donation camps amid lockdown and low donor turnout owing to fears surrounding coronavirus infection.
  • Patients suffering from thalassemia and other hematological diseases are likely to be affected badly as they require regular blood transfusion.
(Image Source: Joern Pollex/Getty Images)

With the coming of World Blood Donor Day on June 14, 2020, let us see the condition of blood banks in the world. According to WHO estimates, blood donation 1% of the population is generally the minimum to meet a nation’s need for blood. But in the current scenario, even this percent has seen a drop. So much so that Kenya’s Health Ministry on Friday launched a blood donation campaign to restock the national blood bank with proper social distancing measures. The American Red Cross has urged people not to cancel their blood donation appointments as there’s an urgent need for blood and platelets.

“You can still go out and give blood. We’re worried about potential blood shortages in the future. Social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement.”

U.S. Surgeon General

In India’s case, the situation is alarming. According to an EconomicTimes article, India was facing a national blood shortage of 1.9 million units (15%)vis-à-vis the WHO norms. The situation has become more worrisome owing to the lockdown restrictions. With the re-starting of elective surgeries and arrival of the dengue-malaria season, it is expected that the demand for blood products (blood, platelets, plasma) will go up further. A constant rise in demand for blood has been seen with doctors requesting the government to organize blood donation camps on a smaller scale, restricting the upper limit to 50 donors at a camp.

The National Blood Transfusion Council of India (NBTCI) has also released recommendations to blood banks and donor organizers to maintain protocols related to COVID-19 to ensure safety of all the people voluntarily coming up to donate blood in such times. Several requests have been made various non-profit organizations requesting individuals to come up and donate blood as thousands of surgeries that were to be performed are put on hold and many patients are not even treated.

Blood donation camps being organized now are strictly following the guidelines set NBTCI. Any person with a travel history, contact history or confirmed infection the virus (SARS-CoV-2), has to be excluded from blood donation, according to the guidelines. Also volunteers will have to wear masks, keep hands sanitized, and should avoid visiting camp if they have cough and fever related issues.

The need for blood is continuous for any functional healthcare system. On this World Blood Donor Day, we request all individuals who are healthy enough to donate blood to volunteer for the good cause as this is a crisis laid equally upon everyone. A little help from one can save someone.

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