A single unit of blood donated (480ml to 500ml), roughly a pint, can save three to four lives. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Dubai needs over 160 units of blood every day and the Dubai Blood Donation Centre (DBDC) works hard to meet this demand, a senior official said on Wednesday.

“We are just about able to fulfil this demand but would be happier to have more stock in case of an emergency,” said Dr Mai Raouf, head of the centre.

Citing a recent medical emergency when a patient with a complicated childbirth required 80 units of blood, Dr Raouf said: “That was nearly half of the total collection for the day. There are days when we have a high number of road accident victims and I advise all residents, both Emirati and expatriates, to come in large numbers and donate blood at least once a month. It is not only a health habit as donating blood stimulates blood production, it is a good thing for the community.”

One has to understand that the minimum amount of blood required for a road accident victim is at least 50 units, for a severe burn case at least 20 units of platelets, a thalassaemia patient requires two to three units every three weeks or so and an anaemic patient requires several units of transfusion every month. Similarly, there are demands from patients undergoing radiation who require 120 units of platelets and about 20 units of red blood cells each month. Each unit of blood can save up to three lives as each unit is divided into red blood cells, plasma and platelets and can be transfused in these forms to three different patients.

“In the first six months (of this year) until June, the centre received more than 33,000 donors and collected 27,401 blood units and 2,657 unit of platelets through 423 blood donation campaigns,” said Dr Raouf.

The centre received 64,666 blood donors and collected 50,601 blood units and 5,828 units of platelets through 676 campaigns in 2017.

“Ours is the only centre in Dubai and provides around 50 per cent of the total blood collected throughout the country. The centre is committed to providing a safe and adequate supply of blood to all Dubai Health Authority-run and private hospitals in Dubai to save the lives of patients who require blood transfusions,” she said.

Need for blood units

The highest demand for blood units comes from the Thalassaemia Centre where each patient suffering from Thalassaemia major requires up to three units every three weeks.

“Nearly 38 per cent of the blood collected was supplied to the Thalassaemia Centre, 16 per cent to Dubai Hospital, 14 per cent to Rashid Hospital, eight per cent to Latifa Hospital, three per cent to Hatta Hospital and 21 per cent to private sector hospitals,” Dr Raouf said.

She urged people to come forward in great numbers to donate blood on a daily basis. “By law, we accept blood donations only from Emiratis and expatriate residents. We do not accept blood from those on visit visas. Now the DHA’s blood donation app, Dami, has made it very easy for people to register and donate blood. Our app educates people and enables them to answer 42 questions that are required to determine eligibility, electronically. So no time is wasted as the individual is able to save 25 minutes of his time answering the questions beforehand. The app can be downloaded for free on both Apple and Android phones,” she added.

Since the app was launched last year, nearly 3,000 people had used it to donate blood and 1,600 people had registered as potential donors in times of emergency, said Dr Raouf. “We are happy that we have this large database of emergency donors who can be contacted immediately in case of requirements of large blood donations during any disaster or emergency. But we want a greater number of people to come forward as it is always advisable to have a healthy stock of blood available in our donation centre.”

 

Eligibility criteria for blood donation

◙ The donor must be in the age group of 18-65 years
◙ The individual should weigh at least 50kg
◙ The donor should either be an Emirati or valid residence visa-holder (people on visit visas cannot donate)
◙ The donor must be in good general health and well rested
◙ The donor must not suffer from any infectious diseases such as Hepatitis strains, HIV etc
◙ Diabetics on insulin cannot donate while those on pills can
◙ Those suffering from hypertension can donate if their blood pressure on donation date is anything between 110/60 on the lower side and maximum 180/90
◙ Those with low haemoglobin levels cannot donate. Female donors must have a HB level of minimum 12.5 while males must have minimum 13.5

Every drop of blood counts

A single unit of blood donated (480ml to 500ml), roughly a pint, can save three to four lives. Donating blood transcends barriers of race, culture and status. There is a need for blood every two seconds of the day in hospitals. Everyday, events pounce on people and make them lose blood — accidents, surgeries, rare genetic disorders etc. Each of these situations requires blood.