Elective surgery put off to ensure blood supply
Some patients in Beijing and other Olympic host cities will be forced to reschedule their elective operations as authorities seek to guarantee blood supplies for the Games.
The Ministry of Health issued an urgent notice on Wednesday ordering medical authorities to boost blood stocks and ensure that host cities are fully prepared for any emergency 'during the Olympic season'.
'Elective surgical procedures that will require a huge amount of blood or use of the rare RhD type should be postponed to effectively control the demand for clinical blood consumption,' the order said.
The ministry also ordered host cities to take steps to organise 'blood collection, stockpiling and supplies with Olympic hospitals having top priority'. A doctor from the Sino-Japanese Friendship Hospital in Beijing, one of the designated medical facilities for the Games, said yesterday elective operations covered all operations that were not urgent, including organ transplants that could be rescheduled.
The doctor said that postponing such operations would not do too much harm to patients whose conditions were not critical, but 'it will still bring a lot of inconvenience'.
'For example, a kidney transplant patient who has been on the waiting list for a kidney for months or years may find his chances of a successful transplant changed if the operation is postponed,' he said.
'And there could be a lot of inconvenience for any family members planning to be with him while he is in hospital.'
He added that his hospital had also assigned leading medical staff from each department to run a special Olympic clinic for athletes, and emergency drills involving the team had made a big impact on the day-to-day running of the hospital.
The ministry's notice also ignited concerns online about possible shortages and inconvenience to Beijing residents.
One chat room contributor on 163.com asked: 'Surgery always requires a lot of preparation and expense. Once rescheduled, who will be responsible for the extra cost incurred during the delay?'
The ministry said that each host province should co-ordinate daily blood use and consumption of rare types, but 'blood use under unusual situations or major emergencies should be ensured through intra-provincial deliveries'.
Hebei , Liaoning , Heilongjiang , Shanxi , Jiangsu and Zhejiang have all been called on to help the Olympic host cities with supply. Harbin is the backup blood source for Beijing.
It also demanded that each health agency have clear emergency supply plans by the middle of this month.
The Beijing Daily reported that the capital will put 100,000 volunteers into donor teams by the end of the month.