Health officials see shortage of blood donors in Seychelles, hope more will give consistently
Other local public and private institutions, establishments and companies also play their part every year by organising blood donations especially to commemorate World Blood Donor Day on June 14.
(Seychelles News Agency) - A lack of regular donors, low manpower, and intermittent communication campaigns are leading to a shortage of blood, especially among the rarer types, a health official told SNA.
"One of the biggest problems is the recruitment of donors," said Morison Julie, a biomedical laboratory technologist at the Blood Transfusion Serology unit in the Ministry of Health.
He explained that there is a tendency for people to donate blood during emergencies or the festive season when the public fears an increase in accidents on the road.
"There are people who come to donate blood but they are not retained as a donor because no continuous promotion and advertisement is being done," said Julie.
In order to address some of the issues relating to blood donation, the Ministry of Health has started an advertising campaign on the need to donate blood.
Blood donations can be done at the Blood Transfusion Centre of the Seychelles Hospital which is open on weekdays from 8 am to 4 pm. All blood donations are screened for infections prior to use including HIV, hepatitis B/C and syphilis. This is also beneficial for the person donating blood as it helps identify infections and for them to get treatment and follow-up.
Blood donors must be 18 years old and above, have a healthy count of haemoglobin, healthy weight and blood pressure. Donors also get a full health screening which includes blood pressure, haemoglobin, viral screening and blood type.
|Blood donations can be done at the Blood Transfusion Centre of the Seychelles Hospital which is open on weekdays from 8 am to 4 pm. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY
In the current system being used each patient requiring blood transfusion needs to bring in two persons to donate blood to replace what is taken out of the bank.
Other local public and private institutions, establishments and companies also play their part every year by organising blood donations to commemorate World Blood Donor Day on June 14.
In 2017, an amount of 1,708 units of blood was donated whereas 1,549 units were transfused.
Aside from a shortage of donors, the Blood Transfusion Centre also has a staff shortage. The ministry is currently looking for a programme manager to do recruitments and work on the policies and structure of the unit.
"We need someone to manage and plan donations, as it is not advisable to schedule donations too close together," said Julie.
Another constraint is the blood lifespan.
"Whole blood has a lifespan of 35 days when kept at two to eight degrees Celsius. Red blood cells last for 42 days after extraction, whereas platelets can be stored up to five days," said Julie.
Aside from screening for infections and viruses, the blood is tested to determine to which of the eight types it belongs.
"Sometimes we are short on blood types especially negative types, which are the rarest types. Currently, we have two patients that are A negative and one O negative and we do not have any A negative in the bank, however, they can be transfused O negative blood," said Julie.
He said that the centre is very short on O negative and that "what we have are from regular donors and we cannot call them every time. There might come a time when it is in need and you won't have the donor available because a male can donate every three months whereas a female can donate every four months."