Abu Dhabi: While nearly 120 units of blood are collected daily at the capital's blood bank to ensure availability, a senior official nevertheless urged residents to donate regularly because collected blood tends to expire after 42 days.
Residents with certain rare blood types are also encouraged to donate more often, Dr Naima Oumeziane, head of the Abu Dhabi Blood Bank (ADBB), told Gulf News.
"For example, O negative and B negative blood types are extremely rare. While we have a list of regular donors whom we contact, we always look for others donors," Dr Oumeziane said.
"People can safely donate blood once every three months," she added.
Units of donated blood, each consisting of 450 ml, are transferred from the ADBB to various hospitals across the emirate of Abu Dhabi for the treatment of patients with chronic diseases such as leukaemia and those with blood disorders like thalassaemia.
"In addition, accidents or other emergencies also create an acute need for blood units. So to ensure we have enough blood on a daily basis, we aim to collect 120 units every day," she said.
Last Wednesday, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, called upon residents to donate blood, following reports of a shortage of blood for thalassaemia patients in Dubai.
He then proceeded to Latifa Hospital to donate blood himself.
Dr Oumeziane said the ADBB had also organised an eight-hour blood collection drive following the call for more blood units in Dubai.
"Shaikha Shaikha Bint Saif Bin Mohammad Al Nahyan, wife of the President's Adviser, Shaikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, was one of the first people to respond, and we were able to collect many units and send them across to Dubai," she said.
Last year, 28,000 units of blood, were collected by the ADBB and transferred to various hospitals.
In Dubai, Dr Essam Dohair, Outreach Coordinator, Dubai Thalassemia Centre, told Gulf News: "There is a high demand for blood groups in the O+ and B+ categories because most of our patients belong to these two groups. The remaining groups are easier to mange in terms of demand and supply."
According to Dubai Health Authority statistics, 50 per cent of the blood collected in UAE is from the Dubai Blood Donation Centre. Of that blood, 45 per cent is used for thalassaemia patients and 27 per cent is used for trauma patients.
In 2010, the Dubai Blood Donation Centre was able to collect 32,808 units of blood, the highest collection compared to other blood banks across the UAE.
— With additional inputs from Carolina D'Souza, Staff Reporter