Amid rising coronavirus cases, govt sets up helpline for blood and plasma donations


The government has launched a helpline to ensure the availability of regular blood as well as COVID-19 plasma, amid a moratorium on blood drives across country due to the rampant spread of coronavirus.

“The patients with compromised immunity now bear the brunt of the deficit in blood donations as the pandemic sweeps across the country,” Arab News reported on Sunday.

“We have set up a helpline for the donors, especially for COVID-19 survivors, to facilitate them in blood donation,” said Saqib Mumtaz, a spokesperson for the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

June 14 marks World Blood Donor Day, observed every year to spread awareness on the need for safe blood donations, and to thank donors for their life-assuring gift.

However, countries around the globe this year have reported a drastic drop in blood drives as governments and health experts fear chances of infection.

Pakistan’s challenge

Pakistan’s unregulated blood banks cater to hundreds of thousands of people who require regular blood transfusions in the country — ranging from patients suffering from thalassemia to those suffering from kidney related ailments and hepatitis.

Moreover, voluntary blood donations in Pakistan fulfill only 50% of the country’s total requirement, according to Dr Saqib Ansari, a hematologist at Children’s Hospital Karachi.

With 100,000 patients suffering from thalassemia and 5,000 babies born with the disease every year, he added that Pakistan needs at least three million blood bags every year just to meet its total transfusion and emergency needs.

Dr Ansari said the real challenge is to get our hands on safe blood and its proper transfusion to patients.

Raising concerns that the huge percentages of patients were liable to contract Hepatitis B or C due to the failure of proper blood screening, he said that these concerns were just as important for coronavirus patients seeking blood plasma therapy.

He added: “The best available testing and screening of the plasma must be ensured before transfusing it to COVID-19 patients to prevent other infections, and gauge the treatment’s efficacy.”

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