Blood shortage leads to surgery downtime

2011-07-08 22:14

Johannesburg - Hospitals have been asked to put elective surgeries on hold due to low blood stock levels, the SA National Blood Service (SANBS) said on Friday.

Spokesperson Vanessa Raju said blood collections were beneath the required five day stock they needed to ensure that the country's demand for safe blood was met.

Raju said the SANBS sent out a message to all hospitals and medical personnel to stop elective surgeries as it was not able to meet the emergency demand for blood, let alone planned surgeries.

Raju said the blood service had to cut back on supply. As an example she said, in a case where a hospital needed four units, they would only send two.

The blood is being distributed strictly to severe cases where a patient's life is at stake.

She said the winter season, school holidays and the flu virus had contributed to the shortages.

The SANBS was low on all blood types and was not reaching the targeted 3 000 units per day, instead, it was collecting less than 1 000 a day.

Bara cuts down

The Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital's blood services said they had three patients waiting for blood.

Barry Van Niekerk of blood services at the Chris-Hani Baragwanath Hospital said it had no units in the fridge on Friday.

The shortage had affected them for the past three days and they have had to cut down on units given to patients.

The Steve Biko Academic hospital said it was not affected by the shortage.

"We received all the units we needed this morning and no surgeries had to be cancelled either," said spokesperson Freda Kobo on Friday.

Netcare group spokesperson Martina Nicholson said it kept emergency blood at all of its emergency departments for critically ill patients.

"In the past and during times of blood shortages there have been instances throughout the country where a limited supply has impacted patient care but the group had not cancelled any surgeries due to the recent shortage," said Nicholson.

SANBS urged people to donate blood on Nelson Mandela Day which is on July 18 in line with the theme "take action, inspire change".


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