Hospital’s blood crisis

2011-02-22 00:00

PORT Shepstone Regional Hospital has been forced to stop performing all elective surgeries due to a severe shortage of blood supply — something that the hospital’s public relations officer Phumza Morai has described as a “crisis”.

The decision, which Morai said was made a week ago, was the product of concerns that began midway through January and means that only emergency surgeries will be conducted at the hospital.

“To avoid risks, the community should be aware that non-emergency procedures requiring blood will be brought to a halt until blood becomes available,” said Morai.

“We are in liaison with the SANBS [South African National Blood Service] to discuss a way to resolve the crisis.”

Morai added that it would be up to the doctor on duty to decide whether or not a case constituted an emergency operation.

She said that for the hospital to go ahead with elective operations in the current situation would be too risky.

“When a person goes in for an operation they can bleed uncontrollably and you never know when they will need extra blood,” she said.

“These are the things that we have to be ready for and we cannot afford to take these risks at this time.”

A realistic date for things to return to normal cannot be given, Morai said.

“We are not sure; it is difficult because it is something that is out of the hospital’s control,” she said.

“It is up to the SANBS and it is the responsibility of the general community to make sure they donate blood.”

KwaZulu-Natal Health Department spokesperson Chris Maxon acknowledged that there is currently a blood shortage throughout the province.

“It has been a problem for quite some time and it is a serious concern,” said Maxon.

“We need people, especially young people, to donate blood because it saves lives. What has happened at Port Shepstone is a disservice to the public.”

However, Vanessa Raju, communications manager for the SANBS, said she was puzzled by the hospital’s decision.

“We currently do not have a gross shortage of blood,” she said.

“All that would need to happen in the case of elective operations is for the doctor to place an order for the required blood; I think this has come down to a miscommunication.”

Raju did, however, urge all citizens to donate blood if they are between the ages of 16 and 65, over 50 kg and living a healthy and sexually safe lifestyle.

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