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Blood shortage in Abu Dhabi

More donors sought as summer collection drops by an alarming 27 per cent

  • By Jay B. Hilotin, Chief Reporter
  • Published: 21:00 July 17, 2013
  • XPRESS

  • Image Credit: AHMED KUTTY/XPRESS
  • Donating life: The Abu Dhabi Blood Bank collects an average of 2,350 units of blood per month, but this is expected to come down to 1,800 units this month photos: Ahmed Kutty/XPRESS
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Abu Dhabi: More donors are needed to stave off a possible blood shortage as the capital faces up to a 27 per cent drop in blood donations.

Dr Naima Oumeziane, Medical Director of Abu Dhabi Blood Bank, has appealed for new donors to come forward to meet the demand. “There’s no substitute to human blood. You can’t go to the pharmacy and buy blood.

“This time when the demand is actually increasing, supply is dwindling,” she said.

Blood donation in the UAE is voluntary and shortages can happen anytime, she said, adding that only four per cent of the population donates blood.

In Ramadan, people who are fasting are discouraged from donating. “We normally ask a donor to have a light meal and not be fasting. The reason why we’re able to respond to requests this time is because we had a good June inventory, ahead of Ramadan,” she said, adding subsequent months will be a challenge.

Drop in donors

The centre collects an average of 2,350 units of blood per month, but she expects this to fall to about 1,800 units this month, based on two weeks’ data.

“It is a big drop. These are just pre-screening numbers. Up to five per cent of donated blood (137 units) cannot be used for various reasons. But demand is rising,” she said.

The blood bank serves the city of Abu Dhabi, Gharbiya and surrounding areas. The resident population of the emirate (including Al Ain) exceeded two million people at the beginning of 2011 and jumped to 2.12 million -- a six per cent increase in mid-2011, figures from Abu Dhabi Statistics Centre show. The fertility rate in Abu Dhabi is high while mortality rates remain extremely low - 15.1 births per 1,000 people compared to 1.4 deaths per 1,000 people in 2011.

Dr Oumeziane said they are redoubling their efforts to increase blood donations in the capital.

Last year the centre collected 28,000 units through 350 donation drives. This year, her team (which includes two mobile blood donation centres) is eyeing 420 donation drives.

“We’re going to shopping malls, groceries and mosques. When you see our mobile blood donation centres there and you are healthy, please come and donate,” she said.

Though blood donations have dropped, she said, the centre has not turned down any request so far. “It is a constant challenge to refill our stocks, especially [at] this time.”

In November last year, the Abu Dhabi Blood Bank obtained the accreditation of the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB) following the implementation of an electronic system of data entry for blood donors.

Fact Box

Blood donation timings

Ramadan timings: From 8.30pm to 1.30am

Call The Blood Donation Centre (Khalidiya): 02-819 1700

Donation facts

  • Donating blood is a noble act that helps save lives -- one unit of blood (a pint or half a litre) can help save the lives of up to four people.
  • When you donate, it stimulates the production of new blood
  • A health donor can donate up to 450ml once every 56 days
  • Each unit of donated blood is tested rigorously for infectious diseases including HIV, hepatitis, and other blood-borne infections
  • Tawam Hospital in Al Ain and Shaikh Khalifa Medical Centre blood banks were the first in the region to have an advanced system of blood donor management using 3G technology

Who needs your blood?

Trauma victims (accidents and burns), heart surgery, patients receiving treatment for leukaemia, cancer, thalassemia and sickle cell anemia (a disease with a high incidence in the UAE).

Comments (1)

What stops you from donating blood?
 Write to us at news@xpress4me.com or sms 5101. You may also leave a comment below.
  1. Added 22:09 July 17, 2013

    I have donated once while here in UAE and it is only when I stumble upon infrequent articles such as this that i think to donate again. I think it would be a good idea for the blood bank to send regular newsletters, sms alerts etc. to donors in their data base.

    CeeKay, Abu Dhabi, South Africa

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