Cyprus Mail

Crisis ups demand for blood

File photo

By Peter Stevenson

THE FINANCIAL crisis is even affecting the altruistic world of blood donation as increasing numbers of people opt to undergo complex operations on the island rather than go abroad, thus raising the demand for blood supplies at hospitals and medical centres.

But a 20 per cent increase in donations over the last five years has meant there is no current shortage.

The head of Nicosia’s blood bank Socratis Menelaou said that he is encouraged by the public’s conscientiousness and that any shortages which may have been noticed recently were down to demand and not supply.

“Due to the financial crisis many patients in the last couple of years have decided to undergo more complex operations on the island as opposed to abroad, an option many preferred. Now we have top quality private hospitals like the Aretaio and the American Medical Centre,” he said.

Menelaou explained that more complex operations usually require more blood which means demand has risen but not to the level that has caused any shortages.

“People are showing they care – there is definitely no indifference to our requirements for blood donation – and this can be seen by a steady increase in the amount of blood which has been donated,” he said.

In 2012 a total of 57,831 units of blood were donated while last year, although numbers were not yet officially available, Menelaou estimated the public gave close to 60,000 units.

Figures in January showed that blood donation was seven per cent up on the average month in 2013 and since 2008 there has been a 20 per cent increase in blood donation, Menelaou told the Sunday Mail.

“During the 2012-2013 academic year a total of 4,800 units were donated by students in their final year of secondary and technical schools. If you take into consideration that there are roughly 10,000 students island-wide in their final year then almost half of them donated blood which is a very encouraging number,” he said.

Authorities are constantly trying to find ways to promote blood donation around the island, Menelaou added, sending regular mobile phone messages but also going on blood drives in the mornings to schools, army camps and offices. In the evening blood drives take place at local community centres and at municipality town halls.

The Nicosia blood bank lis located in the Engomi Medical Centre
The Nicosia blood bank lis located in the Engomi Medical Centre

“We are constantly trying to find ways to encourage people to come and donate blood. Over the Christmas period we had a couple of shortages but we sent out a number of messages and the response was superb. We may be inconveniencing people by sending them but the increase in supply has proven messaging to be a relative success,” Menelaou said.
Soteris Mesaritis, a 46-year-old betting company manager has been donating blood for the last five years and is thus a regular visitor to the Nicosia blood bank, located in the Engomi Medical Centre.
“I began donating my blood five years ago when a family member needed it, but I have continued because I feel it is simply the right thing to do,” he said.

Constantinos Constantinou, a 35-year-old CyTA employee has been donating blood every six months for almost 20 years now.

“I have been giving blood since I was at school and thought it was the correct thing to continue so I give blood twice a year to help out,” he said.

There are blood banks located in each district which can be found at the local general hospitals except in Nicosia where the blood bank relocated to the Engomi Medical Centre five years ago.

The blood bank in Engomi is open from 7.30am to 8.30pm, Monday through Friday and on Saturdays from 8am until 2pm. The district general hospital blood banks are open from Monday to Friday, from 7.30am until 2.30pm

The Engomi blood bank can fit a maximum of twelve blood donors every twenty minutes when required.

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