A new centre for blood donation in Yuen Long is expected to collect enough blood to treat 15,000 patients and help meet growing demand, the Red Cross says. The centre expects to see 5,000 donors in its first six months. It will be launched officially next month, after a soft opening on July 29. Demand for blood rose 24.3 per cent between 2005 and last year, statistics show, having gone up by just 2.7 per cent in the previous five years. The increase was probably down to an ageing population, Dr Lin Che-kit, head of the Red Cross blood transfusion service, said. 'About 60 per cent of blood products are used by people older than 65. When we have more senior residents, the demand for blood will certainly increase,' he said. The Red Cross chose to open the centre in Yuen Long as it would be convenient for many blood donors. Lin said the centre was well received in its first few weeks of operation. In its first 10 days, 1,000 people gave blood, more than 85 per cent of whom lived in Yuen Long, Tin Shui Wai and Tuen Mun. The centre is on the seventh floor of the Yuen Long Landmark at 115-127 Castle Peak Road. Meanwhile, hospitals in central Kowloon yesterday announced their annual plan for the coming year. One of the highlights was that five more heart disease patients would undergo new minimally invasive surgery at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Yau Ma Tei. The hospital has already treated three patients using transcatheter aortic valve implantation. The procedure, which has not been carried out at any other hospital in the city, helps patients with aortic stenosis who are too old or sick for conventional open-heart surgery, which is risky for those in poor health. About 1,000 Hongkongers suffer from the condition, in which blood flow at the exit of the left ventricle is blocked. 'The technology is new in Hong Kong and needs supervision by overseas experts,' said Dr Chiang Chung-seung, consultant cardiologist at the hospital. 'That is why only five patients can be operated on in the coming year.' The Eye Hospital in Kowloon City, another member of the central Kowloon group of hospitals, will also make more use of a new type of surgery that will allow donated corneas to be split up. This will benefit more than one patient and may reduce long waits for cornea transplants. The surgery, known as DSAEK, was minimally invasive and allowed the healthy part of a patient's cornea to be retained, doctors said. The hospital will collect 25 good corneas for such operations. More than 500 patients are waiting for a cornea operation in the city, and the average waiting period is two to three years.