Last year Angkor Hospital for Children received more than 1,300 blood donations. Yet there still wasn’t enough.
Right now it’s high season for dengue fever, low season for tourists, and numbers of children requiring blood transfusions are on the rise.
Because of this, the hospital’s blood bank has issued an urgent appeal for donors. “This year there are increasing numbers for donation, but it is not enough,” explains Dr Sing Heng, the hospital’s heamatology doctor. “There are more patients that need blood.”
Dr Heng says that while patients with severe anaemia, glycaemia or leukemia require blood throughout the year, the need is even greater at the moment. “Blood transfusions are very important for all the patients who need the blood,” he says. “But we need a lot of blood donated this season for patients suffering dengue fever.”
With over 121,000 patient visits a year, 1,000 cases of dengue annually, as well as busy surgical and in-patient departments, the hospital says it requires 120 to 150 bags of blood each month.
For those who have donated in their home countries, the procedure is very similar. Donors are asked a few questions about their general health and medical history. A small blood sample will be taken to check the haemoglobin levels, and then blood pressure will be taken to ensure it’s safe to donate.
Then in a pain-free (well, mild discomfort at most) procedure, 350mls of blood is drawn. The entire donation only takes about 30 minutes and donors can leave with a thank you t-shirt, and some refreshments to give their blood sugar a boost.
Anyone in good general health is eligible to donate once they are over 18 and under 65. Women need to be over 42 kg and men, over 45kg. As in other countries, donated blood is routinely tested for HIV, hepatitis and syphilis. The blood can then be stored for up to one month.
Dr Heng says that would-be donors need not worry about standards at the hospital. “We use standard hygiene procedures to collect the blood, from the facilities and the staff to the clean instruments and new needles.”
The hospital relies heavily on foreigners to donate blood, which is why when tourist numbers drop, so too do donations.
“Usually we get the blood from the tourist or the foreigner, the local people not so much,” Dr Heng explains. “Last year we had more than a thousand donations, but 70 to 80 per cent were from foreigners.”
Dr Heng says that many eligible Cambodians are superstitious when it comes to blood donation, worrying that the loss of blood will make them weak and unable to work. “They believe that it will affect their health, they’ll feel tired, like they cannot do anything,” he explains. “But now I think the situation is getting better and more people understand that blood donation is important, that there’s no affect on their health and that they too can help people. This is why we need to do the campaigns, it’s important to educate the people.”
To donate at the blood bank at AHC: please check in at the AHC Friends Center first – Monday-Friday: 8am-4pm, or Saturday 8am-12pm. Laboratory staff availability may be limited due to lunch breaks fFrom 12pm-2pm. If you wish to come during these hours please phone ahead.
For more information, call into the Friends Centre at AHC, phone 063 963 409 ext: 7015.
To contact the reporter on this story: Claire Byrne at [email protected]