Patients wait hours for blood as shortage persists

Update: July, 07/2015 - 10:30
Blood reservation amount is exhauting in the National Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion in Ha Noi. More than 1,000 patients are waiting for blood at the institute. —

Gia Loc

HCM CITY (VNS) — Tran Thi Ngoc Hoa, a native of Dong Nai Province, goes to hospital once a month for a blood transfusion to treat her thalassemia, an inherited form of anaemia.

On Thursday, she left her rented room in HCM City's Go Vap District at 5 a.m. and headed for the HCM City Hospital of Hematology and Blood Transfusion. But she had to wait until 2:30 p.m. for her transfusion because the hospital did not have enough stocks. She needs 1,400 milliliters a month. Her three-year son, also thalassemia, had to wait for an hour at the city Paediatrics Hospital No.2. Hoa shrugged, saying, "The wait was not long."

Thalassemia causes destruction of red blood cells due to faulty haemoglobin synthesis.

At a press conference held on last Friday for the Red Journey Campaign, which solicits blood donation, Prof Dr Nguyen Anh Tri, head of the National Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion, said more than 1,000 patients are waiting for blood at the institute, which supplies blood to hospitals in 16 provinces and cities and is the country's main source in case of disasters.

Every day it gets only 50-60 per cent of its blood needs and sometimes just 30 per cent, Tri said.

Many hospitals including Bach Mai in Ha Noi and Military Hospital No.175 in HCM City face a shortage of blood, he said.

"Many patients with thalassemia in the northern mountainous province of Bac Kan and northern border province of Lang Son look forward to every vehicle coming from the institute carrying blood to their local hospital every day.

"There is happiness on their faces when they are told that a vehicle is arriving."

Shortage of blood, especially of groups A and O, has plagued the country since May, he said, and feared it would continue at least 10 more years.

Before 1993 most of the supply was from people selling their blood, but since then many blood donation campaigns have been carried out and 97 per cent of the blood is from volunteers, he said.

Last year more than one million units were collected, but this met a mere 60 per cent of the country's need.

The number of voluntary donors accounted for 1.1 per cent of the country's population last year, but for stable supply, the number should be at least 2 per cent, Tri said.

Most voluntary donors are students, and this is where the problem arises: between May and October every year students are busy with their examinations and there is a severe shortage of blood as a result.

Tri called for more and more major donation campaigns like the Red Journey Campaign to rope in more categories of donors – instead of just youngsters — and for improving awareness of the need for donating blood.— VNS