Donating blood dropped twenty-five percent in 2020 because of a pandemic – Director of NBTS
Kaieteur News- In 2020, blood donation by the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) was reduced by 25 percent.
This is according to an annual report prepared by the Director of the NBTS, Dr. Pedro Lewis. Dr. noted that Lewis in his submission, from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, that the NBTS commonly referred to as the blood bank had difficulty in collecting the life-saving physical fluid.
According to the Director of NBTS, with the introduction of stay-at-home orders, social exclusion rules and other guidelines due to COVID -19, the blood bank was challenged for a stable / adequate supply due to measures to prevent the spread of an epidemic and the fear of contagium from donors.
As a result, he said that the agency had spent more on the programs COVID-19, tele recruitment, radio / television, social media, and “community sensitization”.
According to Dr. Lewis, community sensitization increased from 10 in 2019 to 67 in 2020. He said the work of improving sensitization at a community level is primarily through health centers. Due to the growth in the sensitization campaign, the NBTS moved from spending US $ 65 on Radio / TV programs in 2019 to spending US $ 1600 in 2020.
The report also highlighted collection statistics across the country. In this regard, Dr. Lewis reported a “sharp drop” between March and August, a “recovery commencing” in September, and an average of 35 percent reduction between April and August.
He said, “actual figures show that 391 units were collected in March 2020, the same month as Guyana first reported its COVID-19 death, compared to 582 for March 2019.”
Referring to the statistics, the Director of NBTS noted that 369 units were collected in April 2020 compared to 1,060 in April 2019; 517 in May 2020 and 896 in May 2019; 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.
With regard to the blood collection recovery period, Dr Lewis noted that 641 units were collected in September compared to 616 for the same period last year, and 810 in October, 2020 compared with 725 in October 2019.
The Director of NBTS noted, however, that the blood bank had collected 850 units in December and finished the year with an overall reduction of 20% to 25%.
He also noted that emphasis is being placed on collecting blood out of Region Four as 80 percent of the blood supply comes from that region which is also the largest region affected by COVID-19.
According to Dr. Lewis, in Region Four, there were 350 outpatient collections for 2019 in 2020 there were 165.
Explaining the distribution process, Dr. Lewis said in his report that the blood bank had been able to deliver from its central location in Georgetown to all six collection sites.
Because of the pandemic, Dr. Lewis said there were a number of delays in elective surgical procedure and restrictive transfusion strategies.
“In the main referral hospital, in 2019 from January to August, a total of 4700 units were requested, of which 72% were satisfied. At a similar time, in 2020, there were 4100 applications in total and 59% of those were satisfied, ”said Dr. Lewis.
He noted, however, that no hospital reported that it was out of stock or that a patient had died from acute blood shortage.
Referring to the screening process, Dr. Lewis said that no blood collected had traces of the coronavirus because “not all donors are as yet healthy, without symptoms, or with a history of contact and to date, there are no reports of post donation. ”
In addition, the Head of NBTS stated that no staff were suspected of COVID-19 symptoms since the agency had operated under the guidelines including having body temperature checks before entering the blood bank or wearing personal protective equipment .