Blood shortage bites ahead of Xmas
THE Lesotho Blood Transfusion Services (LBTS) has expressed concern over the countrywide depletion of stocks of blood in its banks, saying this could contribute to higher fatalities during the festive season.
LBTS has been facing challenges in collecting enough blood after the Ministry of Education and Training pulled the plug on the service’s school blood donation programme.
The ban was effected after parents allegedly complained to the ministry they were not consulted over health services provided to their children in schools.
LBTS blood donor recruiter Khatala Liphoto yesterday told the Lesotho Times that the decision has left thousands of patients in need of blood transfusion vulnerable to otherwise preventable deaths.
Mr Khatala said the situation was so dire that the LBTS feared the worst for the Christmas holidays when there was usually an upsurge in accidents, leaving victims in urgent need of blood transfusion.
“Christmas holidays are usually a time when blood transfusions are in high demand and it is worrying that we are just few weeks away and we do not have blood,” Mr Khatala said.
He said during this time, in previous years, they would be collecting blood from the schools “and in December and January, we would rely on corporates, communities and open public spaces but unfortunately we have exhausted those reserves”.
He said the situation was so dire that family members were now forced to donate the life-saving liquid to relatives in need of blood transfusion.
“At the moment there is literally nothing in our blood banks throughout the country. The situation is bad,” Mr Liphoto said.
“In some situations, you will find that a relative has been admitted at the Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital (QMMH), in need of blood transfusion and the next of kin is forced to transport relatives from distant places,” he said, adding in some unfortunate situations, those relatives would not be eligible to donate blood, leaving the family “broke and devastated that they travelled all the way to Maseru for nothing”.
Mr Liphoto said the school blood donation programme had been a reliable blood donation base until the ban early this year.
“During past years when we collected blood from schools, we would not even be panicking around this time because there would be lots of blood packs in our banks ready for transfusion,” Mr Liphoto said, adding “but right now it is a crisis and we do not have blood”.
He said it had become a huge challenge to collect blood from the corporates and communities due to the high disease burden in Lesotho, adding that the school programme had been more effective.
He however said that they were pinning hopes on the organisers of the Lesotho Television (Ltv) musical programme, Urban Jams, who promised to mobilise the youth to donate blood.
“We are crossing fingers that this will yield results ahead of the festive season,” Mr Liphoto said.
He said they were also hoping to tap into the factories for blood donations.
LBTS has been facing challenges in collecting enough blood.