Shortage of blood supply leads National Blood Centre to appeal for more donations amidst surge of Covid-19 cases

Regular blood donors and new blood donors are encouraged to donate blood amid the Covid-19 pandemic. — Picture via Facebook/PusatDarahNegaraKementerianKesihatanMalaysia
Regular blood donors and new blood donors are encouraged to donate blood amid the Covid-19 pandemic. — Picture via Facebook/PusatDarahNegaraKementerianKesihatanMalaysia

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PETALING JAYA, August 26 — An increase of Covid-19 patients and decrease of donations have caused a dire situation to the National Blood Centre (NBC) when it comes to supply.

NBC director Dr Noryati Abu Amin told Malay Mail that with the increase in Covid-19 cases in certain states, there had been a decrease in the number of people coming forward to donate blood.

The states include the Klang Valley, Kedah and Sabah.

“We need 2,000 bags of blood daily throughout the country and with an increasing number of Covid-19 patients with comorbidities, the need for blood donation is high.

“For instance, Covid-19 patients who have underlying conditions such as thalassemia (the body makes inadequate haemoglobin) or kidney failure, they too need blood transfusion regularly.

“On top of that, patients such as cancer patients, those involved in major accidents, mothers who have had postpartum haemorrhage, or patients who have lost a lot of blood during major operations also need blood transfusion.”

The dire situation was highlighted recently in two Facebook posts saying that there had been poor response in the number of blood donors at Lotuss Mutiara Damansara and Penang’s Sri Pinang Hall.

Asked as to why the response to blood banks have been low amid the pandemic, she cited many reasons such as most donors being afraid of getting infected.

“Apart from that, more people are working from home and are afraid of being stopped at police blocks to donate blood.

“With universities and schools being major donation drives and closed, there are also fewer blood drives within the state and many university students who want to donate are unable to do so because of the lack of transportation.

“However, we are lucky to have worked with malls such as Aeon, Mid-Valley and Lotuss Store branches to allow blood drives to take place as they have been supportive of our cause.”

Dr Noryati hopes that more people will continue donating blood as strict SOPs are in place for the public. — Picture courtesy of Dr Noryati Abu Amin
Dr Noryati hopes that more people will continue donating blood as strict SOPs are in place for the public. — Picture courtesy of Dr Noryati Abu Amin

She added that even during the movement control order, some of the malls were allowed to organise the blood drive programmes so that more could come forward to donate.

To resolve the issue of blood bags shortage, Dr Noryati said that NBC was granted approval from the National Security Council and the police to allow blood donation activities.

“Donors are advised to bring their donation books or cards along with an appointment slip (which is obtained through NBC’s website and Facebook) as proof of donation.

“Social media has helped us reach out to more people and to increase awareness that it is safe to donate blood as strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) are in place.

“As for crowd control measures, we will share in the social media platforms the public response in real time in order to facilitate donors coming to donate.

“Many blood donors have also shared the importance of donating on social media to encourage their friends and family to come forward,” she said.

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