PhD Nguyen Anh Tri, director of the National Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion, spoke with Tin tuc newspaper about the serious shortage of type O blood in Viet Nam
In your opinion, what is the reason for the critical shortage of type O blood at the institute? Does the situation occur at other blood centres?
There are two main reasons for the situation. Firstly, type O blood is the most common, and up to 46 per cent of Vietnamese people have this type. As a result, the number of sick people with type O blood is higher than those with other types.
Secondly, type O blood can be used as a replacement for other blood types. During treatment at hospitals and health clinics, especially in emergency cases, doctors usually decide to use type O blood.
The shortage of type O blood has been recorded at many hospitals and health clinics nationwide. Last year, Can Tho Blood Transfusion Centre in southern Can Tho Province experienced the same situation.
What are the consequences of a blood shortage? Is it likely to happen with other blood types?
The disproportion of blood also happens with other blood types, but the blood received is usually much more than the demand, such as type B and AB. At times, the institute refuses these blood types.
In recent years, more and more people are ready to donate their blood, thanks to the development of many blood donation campaigns. However, most donors don't care about the demand for blood types at hospitals and health clinics, as the practice of defining blood types is not popular.
As a consequence, there is no compatible blood for patients when they are in need, which can lead to patient fatalities. Worse, other blood types will be destroyed after a set time if unused, because the blood has an expiration date. This is a big waste that needs to stop right now!
Currently, the institute supplies blood for more than 110 hospitals. The volume of collected blood only meets 50 per cent of the demand. If hospitals and health clinics don't stop substituting type O blood for other blood types, the shortage will be worse.
What measures will the institute carry out to solve the problem?
According to the experience of other countries, I think we should regulate all blood types during the process of donation and receiving blood.
For example, during a big donation campaign with more than 500 units of blood, it's necessary to ascertain the need of hospitals and health clinics and the volume of received blood should be around ten per cent more, or less, than demand.
This is an important issue that we would discuss at the summit of the Steering Committee on Voluntary Blood Donation in the northern region this Friday (October 4). From now on, blood donation campaigns will be asked to assure that 50 per cent of the received blood is type O.
I think the specification of blood type should be universalised and the development of blood donation should be further boosted to set up a stable force of donors, especially in rural areas, border and islands. — VNS