Since the beginning of this year the Red Cross in the US and other countries has been making urgent calls for blood donors in order to meet what it describes as a “critical need for blood”.
April is donations month for the Red Cross in Luxembourg, where volunteers make door-to-door collections of cash to help fund the charity’s local activities. However, is there also an urgent need for blood donors? According to the Luxembourg office, there is no need for the grand duchy to panic.
“There is no shortage of blood in Luxembourg right now,” reassured Vincent Ruck-Hechenberger, head of communication for the Luxembourg Red Cross. “The blood transfusion centre (CTS) has a strategy of regular donations throughout the year that matches foreseeable needs.”
According to Ruck, as of 31 December 2017, the Red Cross in Luxembourg counted 13,758 active blood donors, of that 45.7% were women and 54.3% men. In order to maintain a level of donors sufficient to meet the county’s needs, the charity tries to attract new blood to the extent of almost a thousand new contributors each year.
“The goal is to adapt to changing levels of demand throughout the year by anticipating holidays in advance,” Ruck explained. “For example, active donors have already been contacted to compensate for the drop in possible collection days in May.”
He continued, “The challenge is actually to maintain the stocks at an optimum level. It is necessary to avoid a shortage and an excess of stock. Excluding an exceptional event, the level of need is relatively predictable, and blood has a limited shelf-life.”
From the collection of blood to its use in hospitals can be quite a long process, Ruck explained.
“Transfusion recipients are only given those blood components they actually need in their treatment. This means that one donation could be used to treat several patients. This means in turn that the different elements (red blood cells, platelets, albumin etc.) need to be separated before they can be used, which takes time. They also have different storage times from five days for platelets to two years for albumin.”
For this reason, the Red Cross continues to encourage new donors via traditional and social media campaigns and other events throughout the year. For further information click here.