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Saigon's Blood Reserve Faces Critical Shortage as Pandemic Cancels Donation Drives

Saigon’s public hospitals will face an acute blood shortage in the next few days if the lack of donors continues.

In an announcement on April 6, Doctor Phu Chi Dung, director of the Ho Chi Minh City Blood Transfusion Hematology Hospital (BTH), cautioned that the city’s blood reserves are depleting fast, reports Zing.

The BTH is the operator of Saigon’s central blood and stem cell bank. By its estimate, within the next seven days, the decrease in blood units will reach a critically low level, placing local hospitals in a dangerous situation.

According to Dr. Dung, from March 23 to 28, the amount of blood units collected was only half the number of units that were distributed to hospitals. From March 29 until now, that figure dropped to just 10%.

The main reason for this dearth of donated blood is the mass cancellations of mobile donation drives that were supposed to take place in April. This is in accordance with the new stay-at-home order and ban on public gatherings of more than two people by authorities to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Moreover, news of infection clusters at some hospitals have discouraged anxious donors from visiting these facilities or going to public places in general.

Dr. Dung told Thanh Nien in another interview that usually, the blood bank receives from 800 to 1,000 units a day after Tet. This year has been particularly dire, as the coronavirus epidemic hit Vietnam during the same period, so donations have waned to just 200 to 300 units a day.

Saigon now has two fixed blood donation points opening daily: the BTH’s main campus at 118 Hong Bang Street, Ward 12, District 5, and the Blood Donation Center of HCMC at 106 Thien Phuoc Street, Ward 9, Tan Binh District.

Still, according to Dung, the number of daily donors has fallen to only around 10–50 for each facility, much lower than the blood demand by local hospitals. The BTH has since advised medical centers to save their blood for urgent cases, such as trauma patients, senior citizens, infants or those suffering from cardiopulmonary illnesses.

The situation is unfortunately not unique to Saigon. The Can Tho Central General Hospital’s blood reserve is also facing a shortage, according to Dr. Nguyen Thi Minh Thy, the head of its transfusion department. The Dong Thap General Hospital, hit with a similar deficit, now only allows trauma cases in the ER to use blood transfusion.

Hospitals in Saigon are in need of blood units for their treatments. If you’re in Saigon, call 0919660010 to book an appointment to donate blood at the HCMC Blood Transfusion Hematology Hospital (118 Hong Bang Street, District 5).

[Photo via Amcham Vietnam]

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