Tuesday, March 31, 2020

We are the world (Musings on COVID-19's impact on the world's blood supply)

Stay tuned: Revisions are sure to occur
March's blog derives from the ongoing worldwide shortage of blood due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). Of course, because this is a transfusion medicine blog, I'm preaching to the converted. But I hope it gets wider distribution among all healthcare colleagues and the public beyond. 

Specifically, I ask all transfusion heath professionals to speak to colleagues, family, friends, neighbours about the ongoing need for blood donation, made even more crucial because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The blog's title is based on a 1985 song written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie for  'USA for Africa.' 

For TraQ's newsletter, I've collated some of the ongoing blood shortages across the globe (Further Reading). Fact is, the need for blood transfusion is ongoing despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet blood donation has dropped off significantly in many nations for numerous reasons explained in the news items in Further Reading. 

Despite the ongoing efforts of the Transfusing Wisely initiative (Further Reading), implemented in many nations, regular need for transfusions still exits for many patients. Transfusing Wisely's general goals: Reduce the rate of unnecessary blood transfusions with the goals of lowering the risk of complications for patients and supporting the judicious use of valuable resources. 

For the general public, just some of the ongoing needs for blood transfusion include the following (not all inclusive):

Patients who need blood transfusions
  • Mothers who incur significant bleeding during delivery, including those with placenta previa
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding (if massive can be life threatening) with many causes such as hemorrhoids, peptic ulcers, tears or inflammation in the esophagus, diverticulosis and diverticulitis, ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, colonic polyps, or cancer in the colon, stomach or esophagus  
  • Kidney disease, sometimes secondary to type 1 diabetes, that requires dialysis
  • Any surgery that involves significant blood loss
  • Trauma patients including those in car accidents who experience blood loss and victims of knife attacks or gun shot wounds
  • Blood disorders, including
    • Thalassemia major patients need regular red blood cell transfusions to raise their hemoglobin level and deliver oxygen to body tissues
    • Sickle cell disease patients need regular red blood cell transfusions to provide normal red blood cells, lessen anemia and reduce the blood's viscosity, allowing it to flow more freely and ease disease symptoms and prevent complications
    • Leukemia patients who develop thrombocytopenia need platelet transfusions to control bleeding 
The need is real and ongoing. Please encourage colleagues, family, friends, and neighbours to donate blood and save a life. It's one thing folks can do during the pandemic. Further Reading includes questions about donating in Canada and blood systems in all nations have similar information. 

FOR FUN Naturally, I chose We Are The World, originally written for 'USA for Africa' in 1985 by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, produced by Quincy Jones and Michael Omartian, and sung by many fabulous American  artists.  
We are the world
We are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let's start giving...

As always, comments are most welcome and appreciated.
Australia: In the face of coronavirus pandemic, Australian Red Cross Lifeblood’s stocks are threatened (24 Mar. 2020)

Canada: Top doc says Canada still needs people to give blood amidst social distancing (17 Mar. 2020)
      Canadian Blood Services: Message by CEO Dr. Graham Sher
      CBS answers COVID-19 blood donation questions

Pakistan: Experts urge volunteers to donate blood as thalassaemia patients face shortage (22 Mar. 2020)

Spain: In COVID-19 emergency blood bank stocks in Costa Del Sol hospitals are alarmingly low (18 Mar. 2020)

UK: Blood donors needed after 15% drop, says NHS (23 Mar. 2020)

USA: Coronavirus fears threaten America's blood supply (12 Mar. 2020)

Transfusing Wisely Canada

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