Sabah blood banks running critically low

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Sabah has had to bank on blood supply from Kuala Lumpur and Sarawak after hospitals statewide ran low on supply.

According to Leslie Chan, deputy chairman of the Sabah chapter of the Malaysian Red Crescent Society (MRCS), the blood banks at three major district hospitals were forced to shut temporarily last month after some of its staff were suspected of being infected with Covid-19.

He said this involved the Queen Elizabeth Hospital 1 as well as the Kudat and Tuaran district hospitals

“Because of this, people were afraid of going to hospitals to donate blood. This critical situation has caused the Sabah blood bank unit to borrow blood supplies from the Kuala Lumpur and Sarawak hospitals twice,” he said when contacted by FMT.

Chan said they requested 600 pints of blood in March and 850 pints in September.

“We need between 250 and 300 pints of blood every day for use by all hospitals in Sabah. But the blood banks at hospitals can only manage to collect less than 10 pints per day due to the Covid-19 situation now.

“Because of the third wave of Covid-19 and also the conditional movement control order, a lot of donors don’t dare to go to hospitals,” he said.

Chan said blood is critical to treat accident victims, pregnant women, cancer patients, prematurely-born babies and thalassaemia patients.

“Sabah has the highest number of thalassaemia patients in Malaysia — 1,814,” he said, adding some Covid-19 patients also need blood transfusions.

“So the demand has increased but the blood supply is low.”

Understanding this critical need, Chan said the MRCS had undertaken a major initiative to help replenish blood banks in Sabah.

He said they will be organising four blood donation drives this month, all during the weekends, starting from 9am to 4pm at its building here.

This programme is being held with the collaboration of the Sabah Community Services Council, Sabah Thalassaemia Association and the QEH2 blood bank unit.

He said the blood donation drive will observe strict guidelines by the health ministry in order to curb the spread of Covid-19.

“So, we appeal to everyone to come and support this cause and help patients who are suffering.”

He said the Sabah MRCS managed to collect 3,553 pints of blood from 20 districts in Sabah between March and August.

“We still continued the second round of the blood programme during the conditional MCO from Sept 1, but till today we have only managed to collect 1,207 pints,” he said, adding that they collected an average of 30 to 40 pints per day last month.

FMT has reached out to the Sabah Health Department for a response. FMT

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