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 Table of Contents  
LETTERS TO EDITOR
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 235-236

COVID-19 pandemic: Implications on blood transfusion needs of thalassemia major patients


1 Department of Pathology and Transfusion Medicine, Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Medical University; Islamabad Blood Transfusion Authority, Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, Islamabad, Pakistan
2 Department of Pathology and Transfusion Medicine, Divisional Headquarters Teaching Hospital, Mirpur, Azad, Jammu and Kashmir
3 Department of Health, Peshawar Regional Blood Centre, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan

Date of Submission02-Aug-2020
Date of Decision01-Sep-2020
Date of Acceptance14-Sep-2020
Date of Web Publication13-Nov-2020

Correspondence Address:
Usman Waheed
Department of Pathology and Transfusion Medicine, Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto Medical University; Islamabad Blood Transfusion Authority, Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, Islamabad
Pakistan
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/GJTM.GJTM_82_20

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How to cite this article:
Waheed U, Wazeer A, Saba N, Qasim Z. COVID-19 pandemic: Implications on blood transfusion needs of thalassemia major patients. Glob J Transfus Med 2020;5:235-6

How to cite this URL:
Waheed U, Wazeer A, Saba N, Qasim Z. COVID-19 pandemic: Implications on blood transfusion needs of thalassemia major patients. Glob J Transfus Med [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Nov 26];5:235-6. Available from: https://www.gjtmonline.com/text.asp?2020/5/2/235/300640



Sir,

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which wrecked the Hubei province of China in December 2019, has now spread to 212 countries affecting over 26 million population globally.[1] Pakistan, a developing country of 220 million inhabitants, remained unscathed from the virus for over two months as the country reported the first case of COVID-19 in the late February which has now surged to 297,000.[1]

The Government of Pakistan took containment measures by implementing a lockdown across the country limiting public contact and bringing the normal life to a halt. These containment strategies have had a multifaceted impact on the society including the transfusion-dependent thalassemia major patients. The pandemic has taken a toll on all blood banks who are reporting dwindling supplies of this scarce human resource. During the ongoing pandemic, a similar experience has been reported by blood services in China[2] and Iran.[3] Earlier studies with similar disease outbreaks have also reported a reduction in blood supplies during emergencies.[4] This is largely attributed to a lack of awareness in the general public, resulting in fear of acquiring the infection by visiting the blood bank or during the process of donation.

We have 292 registered thalassemia major patients at the Thalassemia Care Center, Divisional Headquarters Teaching Hospital, Mirpur, Pakistan. The university and college students are the most dependable and frequently tapped donors in any disaster situation followed by formal appeals at the religious gatherings in mosques. However, closure of educational institutions and banning of religious congregations lead to shortage of blood. As a result, the donations collected during the month of March were almost 50% less when compared with the average collection (298 blood units versus an average collection of 624).

To tackle this unprecedented scenario, the hospital blood bank formulated a response plan and adopted a targeted approach based on experience with the erstwhile disaster situations. The blood bank issued a call to healthy repeat donors through the Directorate of Student Affairs in respective academic institutions. The donors were urged to visit the blood bank in vacations and donate blood amid the pandemic. The blood bank management also proactively communicated with the print, electronic, and social media[5] so that the general public is aware of the donation process safety and blood needs.

The hospital blood bank has implemented the standard donor management protocols including the practice of hand sanitization, increasing space between donation couches, wearing masks, and monitoring the temperatures of both the donors and the blood bank staff.

All these rigorous efforts have so far proven to be effective in communicating the message and restoring the public confidence as the number of donations during the month of April showed an upward trend (701 blood donations versus 298 in March). The blood bank is ensuring adequate blood supply in the coming months.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
WHO. Coronavirus Disease (COVID-2019) Situation Reports; 2020. Available from: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports. [Last accessed on 2020 Sep 03].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Cai X, Ren M, Chen F, Li L, Lei H, Wang X. Blood transfusion during the COVID-19 outbreak. Blood Transfus 2020;18:79-82.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Mohammadi S, Tabatabaei Yazdi SM, Eshghi P, Norooznezhad AH. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and decrease in blood donation: Experience of Iranian Blood Transfusion Organization (IBTO). Vox Sang 2020. [Epub ahead of print]. [doi: 10.1111/vox.12930].  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Kamp C, Heiden M, Henseler O, Seitz R. Management of blood supplies during an influenza pandemic. Transfusion. 2010;50:231-9.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Waheed U, Wazeer, A, Saba N, Qasim Z. Effectiveness of WhatsApp for blood donor mobilization campaigns during COVID-19 pandemic. ISBT Sci Ser 2020. [Epub ahead of print]. https://doi.org/10.1111/voxs.12572.  Back to cited text no. 5
    




 

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