THE cancellation of donation drives in compliance with the movement control order and the National Recovery Plan (NRP) this year could see a drop of between 20% to 30% of blood collected in Johor.
Dr Mohd Redzuan Abdullah, a transfusion medicine specialist at Hospital Sultanah Aminah (HSA) blood bank, said that about 70% to 80% of blood collection was obtained from donation drives held statewide.
“We expect to face more challenges collecting blood this year compared to last year, due to the higher number of Covid-19 cases.
“On top of that, with more government workers and private companies working from home, we expect to see a further reduction in blood donation drives held at their respective workplaces,” he told StarMetro in an interview at HSA.
However, he said, blood donation drives were still being conducted during the lockdown while blood banks still had their doors open for people to give blood.
“The authorities, particularly the National Security Council and the police, have given permission for us to carry out donation drives as usual.
“However, we need to adhere to strict standard operating procedure both at the blood banks and at donation drives,” he said.
Dr Mohd Redzuan said the public were allowed to travel beyond the 10km travel radius limit during the NRP phase one if they were heading out to donate blood.
“However, we advise people to check our Facebook page to find out the blood donation drives closest to their respective locations.
“It is not compulsory for donors to make an appointment but we encourage them to plan their blood donation activities.
“They can also get an appointment slip from our Facebook page to ease their travels to the donation site, especially at road blocks.”
He said the latest blood donation drive schedules and locations were available on the “Jadual Kempen Derma Darah Johor Bahru” Facebook page.
“We conduct blood donation drives almost daily at malls and other public areas.
“At the moment, our blood stock is sufficient to meet the demand here.
“But continuous donation is important to maintain a safe level of blood stock,” he said.
He added that blood banks also faced seasonal reduction in blood donation, such as during Ramadan.
Dr Mohd Redzuan said that while all government hospitals in Johor had blood banks, only six hospitals catered for blood donation services.
The hospitals are HSA and Hospital Sultan Ismail (HSI) in Johor Baru, Hospital Pakar Sultanah Fatimah in Muar, Hospital Enche Besar Hajjah Kalsom in Kluang, Hospital Segamat in Segamat and Hospital Sultanah Nora Ismail in Batu Pahat.
“In June, the Mid Valley Southkey mall in Johor Baru gave us a permanent space to carry out blood donation activities as one of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives,” said Dr Mohd Redzuan.
Last year, the state Health Department was able to collect a total of 70,000 units of blood, or an average of 5,800 units per month, despite the pandemic.
“The amount of blood we collected last year dropped by 10% compared to 2019, whereby we collected about 77,000 units,” Dr Mohd Redzuan highlighted.
He explained that each unit was between 350ml and 450ml and could save at least three lives.
He said Johor had also helped to replenish the blood banks in other states.
“In Malaysia, blood bank services are coordinated by the National Blood Bank Centre in Kuala Lumpur.
“We work as a team to deliver the best care for patients and donors.
“Last year, Johor provided 1,264 units of blood to other states,” he noted.
Among hospitals that received blood from Johor were Hospital Likas and Hospital Queen Elizabeth in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah; Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun in Ipoh, Perak; and Hospital Tunku Ja’afar in Seremban, Negri Sembilan.
“On the other hand, we have also received help from the National Blood Centre for difficult cases involving rare blood types,” he said.
Dr Mohd Redzuan assured potential donors that they did not have to be afraid of contracting Covid-19 while giving blood as the blood donation sites were safe with strict SOP and other guidelines in place.
“As of today, no single study or report has been found of people getting infected by Covid-19 when donating blood,” he said.
However, he cautioned that those who had been vaccinated against Covid-19 would have to wait at least seven days before donating blood.
“They can donate anytime before their vaccination date but after receiving the jab, they have to wait about a week.
“For those who do not experience any side effects after the vaccine, they need to wait for only seven days.
“However, if they experience any symptoms, they have to wait for another seven days after the symptoms disappear,” he added.