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.