Daily 100 blood donors needed this month

Muscat: The Blood Bank of Oman is on donation drive with a new donation unit that opened this week at Seeb Stadium Hall in addition to the Central Blood Bank in Bawshar. This new unit will remain open throughout the holy month of Ramadhan.

Donors from all the blood groups are required but O positive, O negative and A positive are high in demand, said Dr Zainab Al Fana Alarimi, Director of Blood Bank Services.

“There is excellent response from the donors.  On the very first day we received 51 donors,” she said.

According to the Director of the Blood Banks Services, traditionally there has been less demand for blood during the holy month of Ramadhan due to cancellation of most elective surgeries. This year the donation is less due to Covid-19 pandemic, which has prompted individuals to postpone their appointments.

“However the blood is still needed to cover the requirements of hematology patients such as individuals with thalassemia, sickle cell disease and for oncology patients,” said Dr Zainab.

How many donors would be ideally to meet the requirement of blood?

“We need about 100 blood donors daily to cover the patients’ needs during Ramadhan,” she added.

Currently the Blood Bank of Oman is operating the blood donation drives at two locations in Muscat – one at the Central Blood Bank in Bawshar and the other at Seeb Stadium, which will be operating during evenings during Ramadhan.

“This additional donation unit was opened to meet demand for blood,” said Dr Zainab.

Donating blood is considered a noble act and accordingly, there have always been volunteers who have come forward.  But this year has its challenges due to Covid-19 pandemic.  All blood donors are screened by specific questions related to the diagnosis and symptoms of covid19.

“Any individual who had been diagnosed with Covid-19 is not accepted for donation till they complete 3 months free of symptoms.  Contacts of diagnosed patients are also deferred for 28 days,” explained Dr Zainab.

This Ramadhan will not see donors from Muttrah due to lockdown. “Currently we are deferring blood donors from Muttrah,” she said.

In addition to these two donation centers in Muscat, there are 12 other blood donation locations distributed in all regional blood banks under the Ministry of Health.

“The majority of the blood supply to the hospitals is from these blood banks, for example the department of the blood banks services covers the requirements of government and private hospitals in Muscat. That is pressure on us is more than other blood banks,” she noted adding, “There are other donation sites as well in Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, Armed Forces and Royal Oman Police hospitals that collect blood to cover their own requirements.”

The timing to donate blood at the two mentioned centers is between 8pm and 11pm every day during Ramadhan with special arrangements for female donors.  The Central Blood Bank in Bowsher also opens during working hours from 8am to 1pm and non-Muslim can also come during the morning time to donate blood. One has to take an appointment using WhatsApp messages on 94555648 as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus.

Donating blood is a safe process and people should not hesitate to donate blood. The Blood Bank staffs follow all the safety protocols to ensure safety of staff and the blood donors.

Each donor is provided with a hand sanitiser and a mask as well as his body temperature is checked before registration. The units also follow social distancing principles as a precautionary measure against Covid-19.