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Red Cross organises emergency blood drive to refill stocks

A corporate blod drive organised by Proximus, before the lockdown. © Proximus

The Red Cross in Flanders has announced the launch of its very first emergency blood drive, aimed at replenishing stocks of blood and blood products.

Over recent weeks, stocks have come under pressure, mainly from hospitals dealing with the epidemic of Covid-19. To add to the problem, many businesses where blood donations would normally be organised have been closed or unwilling to take part for distancing reasons.

The emergency collection will take place tomorrow, Friday June 12, from 15.00 to 20.00 in the Antwerp city administrative building Den Bell on the Francis Wellesplein (route).

The emergency arises whenever the stock of healthy blood drops below 6,000 units.

We have been flirting with that lower limit of 6,000 units for several weeks now and have even gone below several times,” said Ine Tassignon of the Red Cross.

That happens especially during weekends, when no new blood products arrive,” she said.

When there are 6,000 or fewer units of blood in stock, the blood supply is under severe pressure and it is not inconceivable that hospitals may not get the blood products they request. Then they have to ration and some operations may not be possible.

June is normally when we do everything we can to increase the stock,” she said.

That helps cover for the long holiday ahead, traditionally a very difficult period to maintain the blood supply.

Our donors are busy with other things in July and August and sometimes skip a blood donation. We know that, so we need to make sure we go into the summer with enough reserve to minimise the risk of a blood shortage during the summer.”

For those unable to make it to tomorrow’s emergency collection, there are alternatives.

We encourage everyone who hears this appeal to make an appointment in the month of June for a mobile blood collection or in one of our 13 donor centres, via our website or the free number 0800 777 00,” she said. “This is how we work together to make sure all patients in the hospitals now and this summer receive the blood products that are of vital importance to them.”

This Sunday June 14 is World Blood Donor Day, and the Belgian Red Cross wants to honour all of its donors. Every donor who comes to one of the donor centres on Saturday June 13, will receive an exclusive reusable Red Cross face mask.

In 2019, 193,716 donors donated a total of 397,575 times, allowing 670,557 blood products to be administered to patients or processed into life-saving medicines.

Alan Hope

The Brussels Times