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Health crisis as blood bank runs dry

  • relatives asked to donate blood for patients
  • shortages delay medical procedures and treatment of patients

Limpho Sello

THE country has been plunged into a health crisis amid revelations that the Lesotho Blood Transfusion Services (LBTS) has run out of blood supplies.

So serious is the situation that patients requiring blood transfusions are being asked by hospitals to bring their relatives or other donors to give them blood. Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital (also known as Tšepong) — the country’s largest referral hospital- is asking patients’ relatives to donate blood. The hospital also said the blood shortages also delayed the performance of operations on patients and other life-saving medical procedures.

Even Pelonomi Hospital in Bloemfontein is also said to be turning away patients who are referred to them without their own blood units.

LBTS has been facing challenges in collecting enough blood after the Ministry of Education and Training imposed stringent regulations that made it difficult for the LBTS to source blood from learners who were among the biggest blood donors three years ago.

The regulations were imposed after parents complained to the ministry that they were not consulted over health services provided to their children in schools.

LBTS Blood Donor Recruiter Khatala Liphoto recently told the Lesotho Times that the decision has left several patients in need of blood transfusion vulnerable to otherwise treatable conditions.

Mr Liphoto said they were left with only five group O positive blood units, eight A positive units, four group B positive units and nine AB positive units.

“The situation is very critical as we ought to have 40 group O units and 10 other blood groups every day. Annually we are supposed to collect at least 8000 blood units.”

“The blood shortages are deepening and the situation has been worsened by the Ministry of Education and Training regulations that make it difficult for the LBTS to source blood from learners.

“It was said that learning time was taken up by the blood donations and it was also said that parents also demanded to be consulted to give their consent before their children could donate blood.

“We gave out consent forms to learners but this is not working because the forms were not returned to us, thus leaving us with very few donors,” Mr Liphoto said.

He said they had held several public gatherings to raise awareness on the importance of donating blood but this had not achieved the desired results.

“We have held gatherings to raise awareness but there is still very little interest and response from the people. Some people just get up and leave when we talk about blood donations. If we do not talk about self-reliance projects or food donations they take it as a waste of their time.

“Even Pelonomi Hospital in Bloemfontein is turning away patients who are referred to them without their own blood units. It’s unlike before when we knew that they would give Basotho patients blood from South African donors.

“This goes to show that Basotho should take responsibility for their own health and stop relying on the government for everything. Life is precious and we should not waste it.

“This is not a government crisis alone and it is not just a problem for patients and affected families. It is a national crisis and we have to take responsibility because we are all affected.”

So dire is the situation that Tšepong’s Public Relations Officer, Mothepane Thahane, told the Lesotho Times that they were no forced to ask patients’ relatives to donate blood.

Ms Thahane also said the blood shortages delayed the performance of operations on patients and other life-saving medical procedures. This was due to the fact that they had to first test and clean all blood donations before they could be used on patients.

“We are not getting the blood right away so we have to keep our patients on the (life-saving) machines until the blood arrives.

“Sometimes the delays are caused by the wait for the matching blood donations and sometimes the delays are caused by the fact that relatives donate infected blood which cannot be given to patients. That blood will not be of any value and will have to be disposed of,” Ms Thahane said yesterday. She added that waiting for blood donations sometimes caused trauma in patients which affected their recovery.

Her sentiments were shared by Ms Limpho Mabulu, the Head of the Laboratory at Ntsekhe Hospital in Mohale’s Hoek.

Ms Mabulu said they were not able to perform surgeries due to blood shortages.

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Lesotho Times

Lesotho's widely read newspaper, published every Thursday and distributed throughout the country and in some parts of South Africa. Contact us today: News: editor@lestimes.co.ls Advertising: marketing@lestimes.co.ls Telephone: +266 2231 5356

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