Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu, Senior Health Reporter
THE National Blood Service Zimbabwe (NBSZ) has been hit by a nationwide shortage of Blood Group O and is now operating with a day’s supply against growing demand as the majority of Zimbabweans are of that blood group.
More than 52 percent of Zimbabweans are in Blood Group O.
Those in that group can donate to people in blood groups A and B, but they can only be transfused with blood from those in their group.
School pupils account for more than 70 percent of blood donors and following the extended closure of schools as part of measures to contain the spread of Covid-19, very little blood is being collected.
A pint of blood can save three lives and blood is usually needed by pregnant women during delivery, accident victims and patients requiring surgery.
A five days’ supply from a healthy blood bank is recommended at any given time and the NBSZ said it has more than seven days’ supply for Blood Group A, which is above the normal supply and could lead to expiries in the absence of increased demand.
For Blood Group B, the bank is running on about four days’ supply which is stable according to blood stocks standards and there is a shortage of Blood Group O.
NBSZ chief executive officer Ms Lucy Marowa said the institution had to adjust the frequency of donating to try and improve stocks.
“We do have a countrywide shortage of Blood Group O because it’s the most common blood group in Zimbabwe. At least 52 percent of people are Blood Group O meaning that even when we collect, the group is likely to dominate and at the same time it’s likely to run out faster compared to the others,” said Ms Marowa.
“Groups A and B can receive O blood but Group O cannot receive from any group other than O and this means we have a crisis if the situation does not improve. This means those in Group O cannot receive blood or undergo medical procedures that require blood urgently, they cannot be saved which may lead to an unnecessary loss of life.
We keep encouraging blood donors to come through and donate as often as possible and we look forward to recruiting more donors to improve our stocks.”
She added that in emergencies requiring blood, usually there is not enough time to do the matching and because group O is a universal blood type, doctors end up transfusing blood O and that gives a strain on blood group O because it moves out very quickly.
“We will also be allowing females to donate four times a year unlike in the olden days when they could donate after four months. Men on the other hand can now donate up to five times a year so that we improve.
This has been proven scientifically to be safe and we hope members of the public will come through and save lives,” said Ms Marowa. – @thamamoe