Donors donate their platelets in the SDP room at The Blood Donation Center in Oud Metha, Dubai on 10th June, 2014. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Residents and regular blood donors have been urged to donate blood before leaving the country for their summer vacation and before Ramadan starts to help augment badly needed blood stocks during the month of fasting.

“Since we are approaching Ramadan and summer, I would be grateful if they help us before leaving by donating,” Dr Laila Al Shaer, head of the Dubai Blood Donation Centre, told Gulf News. “Please, we need more donors for Ramadan. Before you leave, come and donate first.”

The plea comes just as countries worldwide celebrated World Blood Donor Day on June 14 in honour of the men and women who donate blood to help save others.

Figures from the centre show the demand for blood in the emirate never goes down, with a patient needing blood every three seconds. During Ramadan, this is highlighted by a seasonal blood shortfall because fewer donors are able to donate.

While there are more than 80,000 regular donors in Dubai, many of them leave for their holiday during summer. Those who fast are not eligible to donate since eating is important within four hours before giving blood to maintain proper blood sugar levels. A donor must also drink plenty of water in preparation for the blood collection.

“Most of the year, we have a good alignment [demand and supply], but during summer and Ramadan, especially now, they are overlapping, as most of the people are leaving.”

Last year, an obvious drop in blood collection was noted from May to October. In July, 2,870 blood units were collected but demand was 2,940. One month later, the blood collected was 2,313 units while demand was 2,742. The shortfall was augmented from the bank’s reserves but this is not advisable.

“Whatever blood we have, we send. We covered the need last year and it was very fine. We need to keep up with that,” Dr Laila said.

More than 40 per cent of the 42,824 blood units collected last year helped thalassaemia patients who need blood every three weeks. The rest of the blood supply is shared by trauma or accident patients, and mothers giving birth, among others.

Meanwhile on Saturday, medical specialists say this year’s theme — Safe Blood for Saving Mothers — is very relevant to the country considering the UAE has a higher rate of pregnancy-related complications in women compared to the West. This is because of the prevalence of lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.

The maternal mortality rate in the UAE is 12 per 100,000 births according to the World Health Organisation.

Dr Elsa de Menezes, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist from Mediclinic City Hospital, said pregnant women commonly need large units of blood when they develop postpartum haemorrhage (PPH) or blood loss of more than 500ml following the birth of a baby.

The risks for this condition increases due to easy access to fertility treatments, which often results in multiple pregnancies.

A spokesperson from Dubai Healthcare City stressed the importance of encouraging more residents to volunteer to donate. He said they will organise a blood donation camp on September 25.