Muscat: There has been a 50 per cent reduction in the number of people donating blood, during the Holy Month of Ramadan, leading to shortages of much-needed blood for patients who require them at urgent notice.
Officials from the Department of Blood Banks Services (DBBS) have requested people in the country to voluntarily come forward and donate blood to save lives.
“All blood banks in the country require between 200 and 400 blood donors daily, but there is a reduction of about 50 per cent this month,” said an official from the DBBS. “Our red blood cell collection duringRamadan in 2021 has only amounted to 505 units so far.”
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has also created a major hurdle for blood banks when it comes to finding donors. Many countries around the world are experiencing shortages in blood, which is required for many life-saving procedures.
The virus aside, the steps taken by governments and people to curtail its spread, including periodic lockdowns, social distancing, the need to stay at home to reduce exposure to the disease, and halting mass gatherings, have directly impacted the effectiveness of blood donation drives and awareness campaigns.
“The usual donation period – which ran after iftar until midnight – has been dramatically curtailed because of the ongoing lockdown, which begins at 9 pm,” said the DBBS official. “Because of this, it is often impractical for people to come to the centres and donate. The supply chain for blood has been disrupted, despite there being no decline in the need for blood.”
“Although we are working hard to fulfil the demand for blood, the triple combination of the night lockdown, Ramadan, and the ongoing COVID-19 situation has led to a severe decline in the number of donors, leading to a shortage of blood and related fluids,” he added.
“We would like to encourage all prospective donors to kindly come forward and make their donation.”
The DBBS also stressed the urgent need to share awareness among communities in Oman, on the importance of donating blood, especially during Ramadan.
Although Omanis make up 90 per cent of blood donors, those who aren’t fasting are encouraged to go to the blood banks any time during the day to make a contribution towards those who most need it.
The Department of Blood Banks Services (DBBS) is open on weekdays from 8am onwards.
People can either walk in to donate blood, or schedule an appointment on WhatsApp (94555648).
Before coming to the blood bank, donors are requested to check with the staff there whether they are open, owing to changes in timings that might be brought about at short notice by the Supreme Committee to deal with COVID-19.
Updates from blood banks can be found on social media (Facebook and Twitter), as well as in print and online media.
“Our message is that to wipe out coronavirus (COVID-19) , we must practice social distancing, not social disengagement,” said the Department of Blood Banks Services official.