Blood group O stocks run dry

INCREASED demand for blood Group O has led to the depletion of stocks, prompting the blood bank to run on a single day’s supply, which is a far cry from the five days’ supply a healthy blood bank is recommended to maintain at any given time.

By Michael Gwarisa

This is however despite the fact that stocks for other blood groups are currently, with indications on the ground showing that the blood bank could be sitting on 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.

In an interview with HealthTimes, the National Blood Service Zimbabwe (NBSZ) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ms Lucy Marowa said they have devised a two pronged approach where they are implementing targeted collections focusing on Group O individuals as well as reducing collection intervals in bid to boost the dwindling stocks.

Unfortunately there hasn’t been much improvement, we are still hovering at about a day’s supply at any given time. What we have decided to do now is to go into targeted collections where we use Eldon cards and we screen out, focusing on those who are particularly Blood Group O.

“For other blood groups, its either we lengthen the period between collections or we can collect in a dry pack. That’s what we are trying to do just to boost the stocks. We have also adjusted the period between donations. For men, we are saying they can come back after 10 weeks instead of 16 weeks and the ladies can come back after 12 weeks particularly Blood Group O,” said Ms Marowa

By increasing the blood donation frequency for group O males and females, Ms Marowa says they stand a greater chance of returning stocks to normal and keeping the blood bank afloat.

“Instead of females donating three times, they are now donating 4 times and instead
of donating 4 times as a men, you end donating five or so times, so we are hoping 
that at least tis will bring up the stocks.”

Explaining on why the blood bank always experiences critical Blood Group O shortages, Ms Marowa said 52 percent of Zimbabwe’s population were type O blood group while 24 to 26 percent are blood group A and 18 percent are group Bs.

“When you go into any public forum to collect blood, juts know that from all the donations you get, 52 percent are blood group O, 26 Group A and 20 Bs then Group A-B about 4 percent. So the same blood once we receive it, demand will be in accordance to that same ration whereby 52 percent of patients in the health facilities are Group O as well so there will be high demand for this blood group. It’s not like we are getting or collecting below targets but the blood type is under serious demand. It’s plenty in, plenty out.”

She added that 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.




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