Prague hospitals need more blood

In the last decade the number of donors has been shrinking

Prague’s hospitals have a shortage of blood donors and could use up to one-third more. There are five stations to donate blood in the city, and hospitals take blood from outside the city as well.

Blood shortages occur mainly during the summer. An average drop of up to a quarter is due not only to vacations but also to exposure to ticks and tropical diseases. Due to West Nile fever, hospitals this year had to reject people who went to northern Italy, Hungary, Romania or Greece.

Hospitals do not pay for blood from donors, and this is a drawback because commercial centers do pay for blood or plasma but use it to make medical products.

Last year, some 241,302 regular donors were registered nationwide by the Czech Ministry of Health in according to an annual report. Over 412,000 blood donations and more than 723,000 plasma donations were performed.

Experts say about 100,000 more donors are needed nationwide, and that a reserve for emergencies is lacking. The number of people donating for the first time last year was about 47,500. In 2009, however, there were 61,000 new donors.

Over the past decade, the register of blood donors has been shrinking overall due to older people no longer giving for various reasons and a lack of younger people joining to replace them.

Many young people think blood can be synthesized artificially, but this is not the case. Plasma, blood cells and platelets all are needed from donors and can't be made from scratch with chemicals or otherwise created.

In Prague the most registered donors, around 37,000, were at the Central Military Hospital (ÚVN) in Střešovice last year. ÚVN also gets donations from out of town in Louny, Mělník and Jilemnice. The hospital has an ambulance that can take donations as well.

About a third more donors are needed at the University Hospital Královské Vinohrady (FNKV). The current level is about 7,400 but the ideal number would be more than 10,000, according to the hospital. FNKV gets additional blood from Jičín, Hořovice and Kadaň.

Thomayer Hospital (Thomayerova nemocnice) in Krč would like to see 20 percent more donations since the hospital is one of the places where health care is centralized.

Some people with special requirements might need blood products from a particular donor. The Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion (ÚHKT) deals with these specialized cases. Sick or pre-transplant patients can have custom-made blood products prepared there.

Patients need blood after severe injuries, surgery, transplants and poisoning. Blood products are made for hemophiliacs and other people with rare diseases, and for burn treatment.

A half liter of blood can save up to three lives, according to the World Health Organization.

The craze for tattoos has also put a dent in blood donations. People cannot give blood for half a year after getting a tattoo But tattoos are done to a higher safety standard now and carry less risk of disease. Experts say some rules like this need to be re-examined.

People are also concerned that they could get an infection from donating blood. Everything used to donate blood is disposable, and the risk of getting an infection from donating is zero, according to experts.

Where to donor blood in Prague: www.cckpraha1.cz (Czech Red Cross)

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