Blood donations are more necessary than ever during the current Covid-19 pandemic, and blood centres throughout the UAE are taking measures to ensure that donations continue in a safe manner for blood donors and recipients. However, as the pandemic enters its second year, health experts are encountering one more indirect but equally serious consequence – falling numbers of blood donations.
Citing reasons for the plunge, Dr. Naveen Kumar Tiwari, speciality pathology, NMC Royal Hospital, DIP, Dubai said: “The two main reasons are – one, hesitation to visit health facilities and second, new donor screening criteria added like deferral for those coming from abroad for two weeks or the deferral for 28 days to those who took Covid-19 vaccine.”
Dr Gunjan Mahajan, specialist clinical pathologist at Burjeel Hospital For Advanced Surgery, Dubai, also added that currently, the disequilibrium in the stores of blood products at blood banks across the world is primarily due to reduced blood donations and an increase in demand.
“The situation became worse with less blood donation camps being organised, reduced willingness among people to visit blood donation centres and large number of population remaining within their safety bubble or in quarantine. While safety of individuals, following government social distancing protocols need to be followed, availability of blood and blood products is crucial in supporting those in need of regular blood transfusion on account of blood disorders, obstetric patients, cancer patients and others in dire need, such as victims of road traffic accidents etc,” she said.
Blood donations can help Covid patients
Elaborating on a crucial use of blood donations and how it can help people recovering from Covid, Dr. Faisal Baddar, family medicine consultant, director of clinical operations at Valiant Clinic and Hospital, Dubai, said: “One treatment currently being provided to hospitalised Covid-19 patients is convalescent plasma. Plasma is the pale liquid in which our red and white blood cells can be found, thereby containing antibodies produced by our immune system. In convalescent plasma therapy, doctors take plasma of those who have recovered from Covid-19. These people produce antibodies specifically targeting the infection, and they can specifically donate plasma to be used in hospitalised Covid-19 patients. These specific antibodies will provide a boost to the body's ability to fight off infections, thereby helping patients get better sooner.”
Urging people to come forward and donate blood, Dr Naveen said every blood unit donated can save three lives and one can donate every 56 days.
“It is important to know that human blood cannot be manufactured, people are the only source of it and that is why it is important to donate blood and help those who need it.
Blood components (such as RBC, WBC and plasma) are required for various medical conditions like cancer, bleeding disorders, chronic anemia associated with cancer, sickle cell anemia, and other hereditary blood abnormalities, acute blood loss due to accidents among others,” he said.
Dubai Blood Donation Center collects around 50,000 blood units per year which caters to the requirements of its population.
Dr Gunjan added that all centres and hospitals are ensuring complete safety of blood donors and are following stringent measures pertaining to donor selection and their safety by implementing all the protocols as per World Health Organization (WHO), Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and Ministry of Health and Prevention, UAE.
“Since voluntary blood donations are the only source of blood for those in need, I would encourage the people to firstly self-assess about their health, fitness and eligibility and then come forward to donate. Adequate precautions and hygiene measures have been taken to keep the blood donation process safe and avoid the risk of any viral transmission for those donating,” she said.
Describing the process of blood donation and its benefits, Dr Naveen said: “The whole process of donation takes maximum 30 minutes and is usually a very smooth and satisfying process. Research shows that donating blood has even beneficial effects for the donors like stimulation of bone marrow, improving cardiovascular health and reducing obesity.
Dubai residents can know more and register themselves for blood donations via the DHA mobile app.
When we choose to look away for good, we are as complicit as those at the helm of this atrocity
Over 100 people in Lebanon have been reported killed during the hostilities started on October 7