The Ministry of Health has issued an SOS for blood, in recognition of an urgent need at the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) situated in the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), the nation’s hub of blood collection.
Minister of Health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy, has said that a request has been made to regular blood donors or for that matter anyone who wants to be a donor, to come forward to donate the precious life-saving substance.
According to the Minister, it was after issuing blood to the various hospitals that it was discovered that a mere 15 units of blood remained at the NBTS as at Friday last.
The normal acceptable stock level of blood at the facility should be at least 150 units, thus the Minister has asserted that the current quota is at an all-time critical level, thereby creating an emergency situation.
And in order to facilitate persons willing to donate blood, the NBTS even remained opened over the past holiday weekend. A number of other public health facilities have also been facilitating the process of blood donation including the New Amsterdam Regional Hospital (Telephone # 333-2271), the West Demerara Regional Hospital (Telephone # 254-1256), the Suddie Regional Hospital (Telephone # 774-4227) and the Linden Hospital (telephone # 444-6127).
In the meantime, the Ministry will be closely monitoring the NBTS stock of blood products, Minister Ramsammy said.
It was at a recent press conference that the Minister disclosed that although the need for blood is likely to skyrocket during this festive season, the number of blood donors has considerably declined.
He said that traditionally, December is the month of the lowest collection of blood.
“During this month we usually have an elevated number of accidents for some reason.
Also we have delivery of babies that are greater than other months, I don’t know what that is related to, but that is the truth. So our need for blood usually surges…”
It was even at the second half of this month that the Minister had identified a need for approximately 1,000 units of blood at the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS). The average collection of blood per month, he said, is about 600 units of blood which means that in December when people take a break from donation, the Health Sector is forced to manage with about 50 percent of the quota of blood needed to satisfy the anticipated demand.
And though the Ministry of Health had had a target of achieving 10,000 units of blood next year, the Minister revealed that even if that target is achieved, it certainly would not be enough.
This, he attributed to the expanded surgical services offered at public health facilities.
“We are now in a position where we would need 12,000 units which would be an almost 50 percent increase in the amount of blood we normally collect. So we would have to accelerate our efforts.”
He said that the Ministry would need about 50 blood drives in addition to everyday donation in order to meet its target. And already the Ministry has organised 22 blood drives for next year.
“This is the first time in our history that we are able to organise the blood drives a year ahead of time.”
Meanwhile, Minister Ramsammy said that the Ministry is in need of other organisations and volunteers to come on board to help organise an additional 30 blood drives for this year if the NBTS is to satisfy the increasing demand this holiday season.
The need for blood, nevertheless, is expected to remain a constant dilemma faced by the NBTS which could easily impact the additional surgical operations offered by the public health sector.
It was just earlier this year NBTS’s Blood Donor Manager, Shameeza Mangal, revealed that the blood bank was faced with a situation whereby enough persons were not volunteering themselves as regular donors. Even some institutions, she revealed, are not committing to hosting regular blood drives, thus resulting in a shortage.
“Some people promise to give blood and then when the time comes they do not turn up. There are organisations, too, that host blood drives, but when we ask to have repeat sessions they are reluctant…”
Mangal pointed out that this development is also serving to negatively impact the Ministry of Health’s aim to rely only on voluntary donors.
For this reason, the Donor Manager divulged that the NBTS was forced to resort to commencing a ‘Call Back’ programme whereby former voluntary regular donors would be requested to give blood once they are healthy enough to do so. Additionally, efforts are continually being directed at encouraging individuals and organisations to organise blood drives to boost the NBTS’s supply.
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