Boitumelo Makhurane, Chronicle Reporter
THE National Blood Services Zimbabwe (NBSZ) has said it has less than five days supply of blood, with blood group O critically in short supply, hence it is asking people to make donations.
Half of the country’s population and the majority of people worldwide have the blood group type O which has been in short supply because of high demand.
Blood types are based on the type of a molecule, called agglutinogen, found on the surface of red blood cells. Types A, B or AB can clump together if mixed, but type O does not react with other blood types, hence those in that group cannot be transfused with other blood groups.
The Covid-19-induced lockdown measures introduced by the Government has had an unintended negative bearing on blood collections as it interrupted the steady flow of blood donations from high yielding panels especially schools and tertiary institutions that contribute over 75 percent of blood in the national blood bank.
NBSZ communications officer Mr Ephraim Mubayi said they have low blood stocks below five days cover at all branches nationally.
“NBSZ has low blood stocks below five days cover at all branches nationally. Blood group O is the most affected because of the high demand as it is considered a universal type. In emergencies, or times of shortage, it can be transfused into persons of other blood groups,” he said.
Mr Mubayi said contributing factors to the shortage include low donor turnouts and also Covid-19 restrictions.
“The contributing factors to the shortage of blood include Covid-19 restrictions affecting attendance to collections sites, learning institutions remain closed, our major source of donors who contribute about 75% of blood in the national blood bank,” he said.
There is need for continued support from corporates and the community through community-based blood drives, said Mr Mubayi.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic NBSZ usually had adequate stocks of up to seven days stock, although in rare instances they would experience high demand for certain blood groups for instance blood group O because it is universally compatible to all types.
Blood group O donors are encouraged to donate blood at both static and mobile clinics.
‘‘We continue to encourage blood donors to donate blood at both our static and mobile clinics. Other than schools, NBSZ collects blood from corporates, faith-based organizations (FBOs), walk-in individual donors in our static clinics and through community blood drives,’’ he said.
NBSZ has cultivated a reliable population of blood donating youths known as the ‘‘Pledge 25’’, a programme that was conceived by NBSZ and has been adopted by more than 80 countries worldwide. Pledge 25 is a grouping of youths who pledge to contribute 25 pints of blood post high school until the age of 30. [email protected]