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Blood collection faces 25 percent reduction this year due to COVID; donations gradually increasing – National Blood Transfusion Service

Last Updated on Sunday, 27 December 2020, 20:19 by Denis Chabrol

Dr. Pedro Lewis

Guyana’s National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) is projecting a 25 percent reduction in blood donation this year, even as there are signs of a gradual increase, Director Dr. Pedro Lewis said.

His figures are contained in a presentation to the Pan- American Health Organisation’s (PAHO) Virtual Campus on Public Health. In that presentation he said there was a “sharp reduction” between March to August and a “recovery starting” in September. On average, Dr. Lewis said there was a 35 percent reduction between April to August.

The NBTS Director projected then in that presentation that the blood bank would collect 850 units in December and end the year with a 20% to 25% overall reduction .

One unit is equivalent to about 450 ml to 500 ml.

Actual figures show that  391 units were collected in March, 2020-the same month that Guyana recorded its first COVID-19 death- compared with 582 for  March, 2019. In April, 2020, 369 units were collected compared to 1,060 in April 2019; 517 in May 2020 and 896 in May 2020; 641 in June 2020 and 685 in June 2020; 488 in July 2020 and 772 in July 2019, and 425 in August 2020 and 723 in August 2019.

Touching on the recovery, the NBTS Head said 641 units were collected in September compared to 616 for the same period last year, and 810 in October, 2020 compared to 725 in October 2019.

Despite a lower intake of blood, Dr. Lewis said no hospital reported stock out and no report that a patient died from an acute blood shortage.

Figures show that 80 percent of the blood donated comes from Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica), which is Guyana’s largest region and the one most affected by COVID-19. However, the Head of the NBTS indicated that so far none of the blood collected had traces of the coronavirus as “all donors so far are healthy, without symptoms, nor with contact history” and “to date there are no reports of post-donation
illness among donors.” Dr. Lewis also added that no n staff was suspected of COVID-19 symptoms while at NBTS

Among the measures taken so far in light of the pandemic are screening seven days per week to guarantee maximum number of safe units, body temperature checks before entering the Blood Bank or donating, wearing of Personal Protective Equipment by staff, social distancing and staff rotation.

Donors, who might not be showing signs of the disease, deferral of donation by one month after the last close contact with a COVID-19 positive person, no donation by PCR positive persons until three months after recovery, and notification of the blood bank by donors with suspected symptoms two week after donation.