The Taiwan Blood Services Foundation yesterday urged the public to donate more blood, as reserves at its Tainan blood bank are running low amid a dengue fever outbreak in the south.
The latest information on the foundation’s Web site showed that Tainan was in urgent need of three blood types — A, B and O — and its supply of blood type AB was also running low.
Blood reserves in Kaohsiung and Hsinchu were also being depleted rapidly.
Foundation official Li Lei (黎蕾) said blood banks around the nation had enough blood for 6.3 days, slightly below the minimum safety reserve of seven days.
The situation was especially serious in Tainan, which only had 3.9 days of blood reserves. Kaohsiung was at the national average, with 6.3 days of blood reserves.
Li said blood supplies had been strained because of donors’ unwarranted fears that they could catch dengue through the donation process, adding that nearly half the groups that planned to donate blood had canceled their sessions.
The dengue outbreak has increased demand for blood, especially in Tainan, because doctors have been giving blood transfusions to patients with low blood platelet counts.
However, an expert in infectious diseases said that dengue fever is different from other viruses and did not require blood transfusions unless a patient’s platelet count fell below 20,000 per microliter of blood and if there was evidence of massive hemorrhaging, as suggested by the WHO.
Tainan Hospital’s Department of Infectious Diseases director Hung Yuan-pin (洪元斌) said some hospitals might not be knowledgeable enough about dengue and believe blood transfusions are warranted whenever a patient’s platelets fall dramatically.
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