Red Cross appeals for more blood donations as some would-be donors found unfit

Growing number of would-be donors are turned away due to poor health

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 January, 2014, 4:41pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 January, 2014, 4:37am

A slight increase in blood donations in Hong Kong last year was not enough to meet a growing demand, the Red Cross said yesterday.

The 241,480 bags of blood collected - 0.7 per cent more than the previous year - were still too few for hospitals, which required a further 4,520.

"The amount of blood collected from the public is still not enough to satisfy demand," said Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service consultant Dr Lee Cheuk-kwong. "We are in need of more type O and type A blood."

Lee said an increase in patients with cancer or blood- related diseases and a greater demand for organ transplants had boosted hospitals' needs.

Fewer young people were donating, while a growing number of would-be donors had to be turned away because of their health, he said.

"About 10 per cent of new blood donors were found unfit for a blood donation, a result of poor eating and living habits."

Many of those rejected suffered from low blood pressure or a lack of haemoglobin. Some displayed flu symptoms.

Donors from secondary schools dropped 8 per cent last year as a result of the new academic structure which eliminated the seventh form, Lee said.

The organisation needs an average of 1,000 donors a day. It aims to stockpile enough blood to meet demand for 10 days, but the most it has managed so far is seven-days worth.

Lee said the number of donors dropped significantly in cold weather when there could be as few as 700.

Lee predicted that 244,000 bags of blood and 18,300 bags of platelets would be needed by hospitals this year.

The Red Cross plans to launch two programmes to encourage more first-time donors and to retain regular ones.