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Blood donations drop drastically over virus fears

Som Kanika / Khmer Times Share:
A donor gives blood at the National Blood Transfusion Centre in Phnom Penh. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The National Blood Transfusion Center is appealing to the public to replenish blood donation supplies which have fallen critically short due to the virus pandemic.

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According to the centre, it needs at least 270 platelets of blood daily to save lives.

The centre’s deputy director Dr Ly Sovith said yesterday it received only about 20 percent of all blood donation this year. A majority of the provided blood comes from a patient’s family members, relatives and friends, which is called replacement donation.

Normally, the National Blood Transfusion Center receives blood from voluntary donors personally or through regular blood donation drives organised by the public, private institutions, organisations and ministries.

However, a great number of people are concerned about going to the centre to donate blood over fears of COVID-19 virus transmission. During the height of the the pandemic in the Kingdom, the centre also temporarily halted its operations.

Dr Sovith said: “Normally ministries, institutions and private companies organised blood donation drives to help the centre but they were unable to organise events during the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Just before the outbreak, the centre received around 250 bags of blood daily from voluntary blood donations.

These amounts were still insufficient to fulfil the demand in the hospitals, according to Dr Sovith.

“It might be adequate if blood donations can increase to 50 percent,” he added.

Dr Sovith also said the shortage of blood donations can also lead to people selling their matching blood types for money through middlemen who in turn sell it to patients who immediately need blood transfusions.

He said this kind of blood donation, despite the matching blood types, may not serve its purpose if the donors gave blood at centres and which do not follow strict regulations on testing the blood properly.

“All blood donors must be honest about their health conditions and inform the doctor if their blood might cause trouble to recipients. They must also undergo health checks before their blood is taken,” Dr Sovith said.

One concern about selling blood is that the blood donor may lie about their health condition for money. Their blood may contain disease or not enough nutrients for donation, according to Dr Sovith.

To prevent this from happening, he urged the public to resume blood donations through the centre.

“Our blood cells will regenerate even if we don’t donate. They will age and die anyway. Therefore, it would be healthier if people donate blood regularly,” Dr Sovith added.

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