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Health crisis as blood bank runs dry

by Lesotho Times

Limpho Sello

A HEALTH crisis is looming amid revelations that the Lesotho Blood Transfusion Services (LBTS) has almost run out of blood.

The LBTS is only left with 120 units of blood, meaning it can only cater for 120 patients before its stock completely dries up.

This was revealed by the LBTS’ Blood bank manager ‘Maleqhoa Nyopa in a recent interview with the Lesotho Times.

The 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 in the county.

The regulations were imposed after parents complained to the ministry that they were not consulted over the blood donations sought from their children.

Six months ago, a similar blood crisis played out in the country.  It got to the extent where patients requiring blood transfusions were asked by hospitals to bring their relatives or other donors to give them blood. At the time, Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital (also known as Tšepong) — the country’s largest referral hospital — said the blood shortages delayed operations on patients and other life-saving medical procedures.

Even Pelonomi Hospital in Bloemfontein was turning away Basotho patients referred without their own blood units.

Commenting on the latest situation, Ms Nyopa said the number of blood donors in the country had drastically dropped. The crisis had been exacerbated by the ongoing nationwide lockdown resulting in most people failing to come through to donate the precious liquid.

In terms of the lockdown which started on 30 March 2020 and is expected to end on 21 April 2020, people are expected to stay at home except for those working in essential services like health, media and the security sector.

Ms Nyopa said, on the other hand, the lockdown had been a blessing in disguise as it had reduced the carnage on the roads leaving few people needing blood transfusions for now.

“The LBTS has been struggling to collect enough blood for the past four years,” Ms Nyopa said.

“As things stand, we only have 120 units of blood and 100 of these were donated by members of the Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) last month. We therefore appeal to our regular donors to come through and donate blood. We are making a special appeal to donors of the O- blood group to come forward as this particular blood group is scarce. Group O-negative blood can be transfused to a patient of any blood group.

“The national lockdown is a blessing in disguise for the country as it has reduced the likelihood of accidents and consequently the number of people who would be in need of the precious liquid.

“The movement of people is currently restricted and the sale of alcohol has been prohibited during this time (of the lockdown). This means the number of blood units in the blood bank will be able to sustain the hospitals during this period but that does not mean we have enough blood. We still need more blood units to sustain us beyond this period.

“We therefore appeal to our regular donors and every Mosotho to continue to donate blood. We are aware that during the lockdown movement is restricted. However, we can pick up those willing to donate blood and safely return them to their homes after donating the blood,” Ms Nyopa said.

In a separate interview, police spokesperson Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli said they had not received reports of any road accidents since the lockdown began on 30 March 2020.

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