|Students and volunteers donate blood at the Red Sunday festival last week in Ha Noi. The country may face a severe blood shortage over the Tet (Lunar New Year) holidays. — Photo Thanh Hai
HA NOI (VNS) — The country may face a severe blood shortage over the Tet (Lunar New Year) holidays, according to Nguyen Anh Tri, director of the National Institute of Haematology and Blood Transfusion (NIHBT).
Last week, at the launch of the 8th "Red Sunday" – a blood drive running until January28, Tri said the NIHBT's blood bank had about 6,000 units of blood available to treat emergencies in northern hospitals over the holiday.
This news has worried patients with blood diseases who require regular blood transfusion.
Tri said that thalassemia patients needed two to four units of blood on average each day.
Other groups of patients requiring regular blood transfusion are those with blood cancer, hemophilia or myelodysplastic syndrome - a type of cancer in which the bone marrow does not produce enough healthy blood cells.
The NIHBT received about 1,000 regular patients each day, Tri said.
Vice head of NIHBT's Thalassemia Centre, Nguyen Thi Thu Ha, said the centre received about 1,700 regular patients, half of whom were under 15 years old.
Phung Thi Le from Vinh Phuc Province said that she had to take her 12-year-old son to Ha Noi for at least ten days a month for blood transfusion.
"If we miss his blood transfusion, he will get high temperature and start bleeding from the nose and mouth," she said.
In the run-up to Tet, instead of preparing for the biggest holiday of the year, her family was worried about his blood transfusions, she said.
"We hope the hospital had enough blood for patients during Tet," Le said.
"There was a shortage at the hospital last year," she said, adding that her son had to wait three days for a blood transfusion.
She said the sight of her son looking pale and faint was heartbreaking.
"In previous years, other families gather on New year's Eve, but my son and I were still on the coach to go home," she said, with tears in her eyes.
Luong Van Dung from Cao Bang Province said that his four-year-old daughter was diagnosed with thalassemia last May.
"We are used to taking overnight coach trips as my daughter needs blood transfusions twice a month at the Blood Transfusion Institute," he said.
They were more afraid of blood shortage than any problems like overcrowded coaches, traffic jams or much higher price of goods due to Tet, he said.
Thalassemia is a form of anaemia, a genetic blood disease a child can inherit if one or both parents carry the mutant gene; the risk is higher if both parents have it. The disease is not always symptomatic, but can be identified through testing.
It is caused by variant or missing genes that affect how the body makes haemoglobin, the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen. In Viet Nam, more than 20,000 patients are diagnosed with thalassemia each year, and more than 5 million people in Viet Nam carry the genetic trait for thalassemia. — VNS