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Red Cross Appeals For More Blood Donors As Stocks Run Low

Source: Vientiane Times

The Lao Red Cross has issued an urgent appeal for blood donors to come forward, saying that hospitals around the country are experiencing a critical shortage of blood and having to postpone vital surgery.

The increase in the number of road accident victims has added to the demand for blood, according to the National Blood Transfusion Centre, which is run by the Lao Red Cross.

The Centre’s Director, Dr Chanthala Souksakhone, told a recent meeting that blood supplies are running low and need to be replenished.

People can donate at the blood transfusion centre in Vientiane and at provincial blood donation centres. 

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The Centre had hoped to collect 68,000 bags of blood in 2022 but fell short of the target because of continuing Covid-19 restrictions, which meant fewer people than expected donated blood.

While the number of people requiring blood transfusions has increased largely because of the rise in road traffic accidents, there has been a substantial drop in blood donations, and the situation has now become critical, Dr Chanthala said.

Blood is needed by people who suffer severe injuries and require emergency surgery, and by some cancer patients, while people with other conditions who need surgery are also reliant upon donated blood.

Regular, voluntary, unpaid blood donors are the safest group of donors as the prevalence of blood-borne infections is lowest among these donors, Dr Chanthala added. He said the Covid-19 outbreak had discouraged many people from donating blood, but pointed out that blood was essential for hospital use and was a life-saving component of medical care.

Many people will need a blood transfusion at some stage in their life, such as after a serious injury, during invasive surgery, or after giving birth.

Those who donate blood are engaging in a public service and helping to ensure that safe blood is available for everyone who needs it.

People aged 17-70 are eligible to donate blood, but first-time donors should not be older than 55. In addition, donors must weigh at least 45 kilograms, and foreign blood donors must have lived in Laos for at least six months.

The National Blood Transfusion Centre is located in Xiengyeun village, Chanthabouly district.

Blood donation centres in 17 provinces service 30 district blood service networks.

Over the past five years, the National Blood Transfusion Centre has collected 251,564 bags of blood, exceeding the target of 249,700 bags for this period, but recent targets have not been met.