, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 2 – The National Blood Transfusion Services (NBTS) unit has now assured Kenyans of a sufficient supply of blood bags following two days of shortage that saw blood donation sessions interrupted.
NBTS which blames the two-day shortage on clearance delays and long tendering processes also admits that the scarcity saw potential blood donors sent away.
In an interview with Capital News, NBTS National Director Margaret Oduor said the problem had been rectified and that blood donation processes had gone back to normal.
“You know when you run out of blood bags then you cannot collect. But that has so far been rectified and I think by Friday last week we had 5,000 bags and we received another 2,000 bags today. In addition we had placed our order of 80,000 three months earlier so that should be coming in anytime from tomorrow,” she said.
Dr Oduor also said that the government should step in adequately to prevent a repeat of the deficiency.
“Most of our support is from donor funds. Of course you know the ministry has issues of priority…if there are no drugs then you know where the money will go. But we want to believe that blood is also a drug; our challenge is that you can’t buy it across the shop you have to convince someone to donate,” she said.
Dr Oduor also said that the blood transfusion center normally procured half-litre blood bags priced at Sh250 each but had started procuring specialised bags that would prevent wastage of blood.
“In the half-litre bag we collect 500ml and sometimes people don’t need all that so you end up wasting. We are therefore trying to bring in bags that can cater even for children. We call them triple and quadruple bags and they cost about Sh750 each. With these bags you can choose to collect a specific amount of blood,” she said.
She also explained that the reason why it was impossible to collect less than a pint of blood using the traditional bags was because collecting less would interfere with the anticoagulant/blood ratios.
“If you put less blood in the bag then the proportions between the anti clotting mechanism and blood will be ruined,” she said.
The NBTS Director further asked Kenyans to donate blood saying they should not wait for disaster to strike for them to rush and give blood. She added that on average between 250,000 units of blood and 380,000 were required by Kenyans per year.
“We only have 35 days within which to use blood after collection so we have to constantly collect. Even if I collect one million units of blood today I will only use what I can use within 35 days and throw away the rest,” she said.
She also explained that an adult man had the capacity of donating blood four times in a year while an adult woman could donate up to three times in a year.
There are about seven transfusion centers countrywide where individuals can donate and get blood- in Nairobi, Kisumu, Nakuru, Eldoret, Embu, Mombasa and Kisii. Anyone above the age of 16 and weighs 50 kilograms and above can donate blood.