Cambodia’s hospitals and clinics have an ever-increasing need for blood donations from the public year-to-year as the population grows and improvements in healthcare gives access to life-saving procedures previously unavailable to those in need.

According to data from the National Blood Transfusion Centre (NBTC), the need for blood nationwide has increased from 250 units to 300 units per day, while the amount of blood being donated is unable to meet present demand.

The average blood transfusion bag (one unit) holds 250ml to 350ml of blood depending on the purpose and the recipient, with some patients requiring multiple bags to treat their condition. The average blood donor provides around 500ml of blood per donation and is able to donate once every 90 days typically.

The small number of blood donors in Cambodia has left doctors and patients with an insufficient supply of blood to treat everyone in need of a transfusion and experts say that more awareness must be raised about the need for donated blood and the fact that it is a safe activity that is harmless to the donor.

NBTC president Sok Po said on October 10 that only 15 per cent of Cambodians had ever donated and mostly through blood drives organised at their place of employment.

Chhay Polin, a one-time blood donor, began to understand the need for donations at hospitals in Phnom Penh and now says she has committed to donate again next year.

“I am happy to contribute to save the lives of those in need of blood because not enough blood is being donated by everyone to serve the large hospitals,” she said.

Although she donated blood through a donation drive at the bank where she works, she says she views donating as a duty for all citizens in order to contribute voluntarily to society.

Similarly, Sambath Yuri, a first time blood donor, expressed his enthusiasm for participating and highlighted the importance of donating for all young people.

“I know that many, many sacks of blood are needed every year and therefore we should all help donate together to meet these needs,” he said.

He said he hopes that the blood taken from his body would give the gift of life or health to a patient so that they have more time to be alive or enjoy time with their family outside of the hospital.

Prum Raksmey, a youth social worker, urged young people to consider donating blood as well as volunteering for charitable activities that help society.

“We cannot know whose children or whose mother or father or anyone will be the next to urgently need blood to save their life! So we should all help each other in times of emergency by donating now,” she said.

For the first nine months of this year the NBTC received about 60,000 units of donated blood, which equals about 70 per cent of the projected need for blood over that period in their annual plan.

Due to this chronic shortfall in blood donations, the centre has been trying to encourage the public to voluntarily participate in blood donations in order to raise the rate from its current 15 per cent all the way up to 80 or 90 per cent, which would allow Cambodia to successfully supply blood to all of the patients in need across the Kingdom.

This year, the NBTC plans outline a need for an estimated 110,000 units of blood, while last year they received just 90,000 units of donated blood. Each minute, it is estimated that Cambodia uses about five units of blood throughout the nation’s network of hospitals and clinics.