Blood donations are gifts of life but, as a result of the pandemic, Hong Kong and many other places around the world have experienced a significant fall in the number of donors. Since early 2020, the average annual blood donation frequency in the city has fallen by 60 per cent, according to a survey by the Hong Kong Society of Clinical Blood Management. The Hong Kong Red Cross Blood Transfusion Service has issued 15 emergency appeals for blood donations since the start of the pandemic in January 2020. The most recent appeal was made in March, amid the fifth wave of Covid-19, when daily collections slumped to less than half the service’s daily target of 650 units of blood. The survey of donors reflected that decline, with nearly 90 per cent of those polled in July saying they had not given blood during the wave of infections from January to April. Meanwhile, doctors are concerned about public misconceptions regarding the use of blood in medical facilities. The recent survey found more than 70 per cent of respondents mistakenly thought public hospitals had been using artificial blood. Blood donations in Hong Kong dry up because of Covid-19 pandemic, survey finds Nearly 30 per cent falsely believed that demand was lower as a result of many non-emergency procedures being postponed because of the pandemic. Others overestimated the shelf life of donated blood products. Fresh blood can only be kept for about a month and platelets up to five days. There is no substitute for human blood, and just one donation may help three or more patients. Shortages can be deadly for accident victims or those who need urgent surgery or treatment for grave illnesses such as thalassaemia or blood cancer. So far, there is no direct link between the shortage of blood and any increase in deaths. But health professionals have renewed their appeals for us all to come forward and donate if we can. Fear of infection or misunderstandings about the need to give blood may explain the reluctance of some people, but it is clear that there is call for a fresh campaign to drive donations and bring those myths to an end.