Urgent need for blood in Latvia's hospitals

Compared to the previous year, demand for blood components increased by at least 15% monthly this year, Daugavpils Regional Hospital told Latgale television on October 30. A similar tendency has been observed in all regions of Latvia, and it is increasingly difficult to ensure this demand.

The number of donors is decreasing, and first-time donors are becoming less frequent. New blood dose reserves are urgently needed to improve the situation. In hospitals all over Latvia, demand for blood components has been growing for about a year and a half, especially in recent months.

"That blood has the price of life. It is a matter of life. Still, there is no artificial blood. Rēzekne, as such, does not supply itself with donors. If between 200 and 270 doses of blood are used per month for Rēzekne hospital, then 130-160 donors arrive on the spot,” said Ināra Čerņavska, head of the Latgale branch of the State Blood Donor Center.

Ilona Skrinda, head of the blood preparation unit at Daugavpils Hospital, said that "we also have record months when this demand has risen very rapidly. If on average the blood department of Daugavpils Regional Hospital dispenses around 250-280 red blood cell masses, then this year it has even been that 320 and more are dispensed".

Currently, the situation is more critical in Latgale, but at any time other regions may be affected by difficulties, the industry specialists said.

Demand for a particular blood group also changes almost every moment. Society is aging, donors are also lacking and blood demand is growing for other reasons.

"Everything has to do with the time of Covid-19, when obviously patients haven't had access to medical help. Those patients come, as we say, with diagnoses already deep, then those conditions are very pronounced with low hemoglobin rates, with complex operations,” said Ilona Skrinda.

It is also increasingly difficult to meet growing demand. The state Blood Donor Center produced 7,000 doses of blood in the first nine months of this year, with only about 6% of those from first-time donors.

"The first-timers were just 400. It is also thanks perhaps to our border guards, the State Border Guard College, where we travel, and also to the Alūksne Regiment, there come new soldiers and then new donors,” the Blood Donor Center's representative Ināra Čerņavska said.

It is by traveling with the donor center, organizing campaigns and personally addressing regular donors that the necessary blood components for hospitals are provided. However, if red blood cell masses with an expiration of 35 days were sometimes still in reserve around day 30, they are now being used almost immediately.

“From hand to mouth, right away. As a result, reserves may not be there for next week. If something is really lacking, it's our girls, nurses, who are sitting at the phone ringing, calling, inviting,“ said Ilona Skrinda.

In order to avoid further limitations on the availability of blood components to any medical institution, residents are invited to donate blood more actively to branches of the State Blood Donor Centre throughout Latvia.

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