Czech hospitals seek new blood donors as supplies dwindle

There is higher demand for blood in the summer due to more accidents and a drop in donors as people go on vacation.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 24.07.2023 10:33:00 (updated on 24.07.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Hospitals across Czechia are grappling with a blood shortage as summer sets in. Hospitals see more accidents in the summer, leading to a higher demand for blood. Compounding the issue further, many regular blood donors are on vacation.

Several cities, including Ústí nad Labem, Příbram, Karlovy Vary, Olomouc, and Ostrava, report dwindling stocks of blood types O negative, A negative, and B negative. The critical situation has prompted transfusion departments to urge new donors to step forward and contribute.

To maintain a steady supply of blood, Czechia needs up to 100,000 more blood donors. However, during the summer months, there is a sharp decline in donor numbers, with around 25 percent fewer people coming forward for blood donation compared to other seasons.

Donate before you travel

To encourage potential donors, medical authorities are advising those planning to travel abroad to donate blood before their departure. Certain foreign destinations, particularly in Europe where West Nile fever is prevalent, require a waiting period of up to one month after returning before a person can donate blood. In tropical and subtropical regions, this restriction can extend up to six months post-return.

There are other factors to consider before becoming a blood donor. For instance, individuals who have recently received tattoos must wait six months before they are eligible to donate. Additionally, a one-month restriction applies if someone has been bitten by a tick or has taken antibiotics.

Dr. Daniela Dušková, head of the Faculty Transfusion Department at the General University Hospital in Prague, spoke to news channel ČT24 about the importance of adhering to these waiting periods to safeguard the quality of the transfusion preparation and, ultimately, the patient's well-being. However, tracking these restrictions remains challenging for transfusion departments, as they rely on donors' honesty and transparency.

To donate blood to the General University Hospital, a foreigner must have a stay in Czechia for over a year, have health insurance, and communicate in Czech. Details for donating can be found on the hospital website. Other hospitals that take blood donations include Thomayer Hospital and the Military University Hospital. Blood and plasma sold to commercial entities does not go to hospitals for use in transfusions.

Discussions are underway regarding the ban on blood donation for individuals with perceived "risky sexual behavior." In the past, these restrictions predominantly targeted gay individuals due to HIV transmission concerns.

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