SINGAPORE – Singapore is facing a critical shortage of Group O blood stocks, with the country’s reserves dipping below a six-day supply, announced the Singapore Red Cross (SRC) and the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) on Thursday (25 Jan).
Urgent appeals have been made to Group O donors to step forward and contribute over the next two weeks leading up to the Chinese New Year holiday on 10 and 11 February to replenish stocks to sustainable levels.
In a joint media release, SRC and HSA highlighted the unprecedented demand for Group O blood types, citing a surge in usage coupled with a lower-than-normal turnout of blood donors since the onset of 2024.
Group O blood, being the universal blood group, is crucial for emergencies when patients’ blood groups are unknown. Moreover, almost half of all patients in Singapore possess Group O blood and can only receive blood from the same group.
The ramifications of the dwindling blood stocks are severe. SRC and HSA cautioned that further depletion could lead to the postponement of elective surgeries and compromise life-saving transfusions.
They emphasized that a nine-day stockpile, at a minimum, is required to address emergencies adequately. Ideally, a 12-day stockpile is considered healthy, according to SRC.
Singapore relies solely on blood donations to maintain its blood stocks, a fact underscored by SRC and HSA.
However, they noted that blood collection typically drops by as much as 20 percent during festive seasons like Chinese New Year. This decline exacerbates the existing shortage, posing a significant challenge to healthcare providers.
Health Minister Ong Ye Kung had previously observed an uptick in blood usage in the preceding months as hospitals sought to address postponed elective surgeries and treatments resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The surge in demand underscores the critical need for replenishing blood stocks.
Eligible donors aged between 16 and 60 with O+ and O- blood types are urged to come forward and donate, provided they meet the minimum weight requirement of 45kg.
SRC and HSA also advised potential donors to contribute before travelling, as certain destinations may render them ineligible due to insect-borne infection risks.
To facilitate donations, blood banks located in Dhoby Ghaut, Jurong, Outram, Punggol, and Woodlands are open for donors.
Community and corporate groups are encouraged to coordinate group donations by contacting SRC directly.
Additionally, on 9 February, the eve of Chinese New Year, all blood banks will be operational for whole blood donations until 2 pm, with the last appointment for apheresis donation at Bloodbank@HSA scheduled for 12.15 pm.
However, blood banks will remain closed on 10 and 11 February, with operations resuming on 12 February for select facilities and 13 February for Bloodbank@HSA.
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