Residents rely on direct blood donors
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With blood supplies in the city depleting, Aci, 47, had no choice but to find blood donors for her ill husband herself. The hospital where her husband was being treated had no stocks of type-O blood, and the Jakarta Red Cross (PMI) gave her the same answer.
“They told me that it was hard to find donors during Ramadhan,” she said at PMI Jakarta headquarters in Central Jakarta. She had arrived with her cousins who intended to donate blood for her husband.
PMI Jakarta has reported a significant 70 percent decrease in blood supplies during Ramadhan; demand, however, remains about the same.
“Usually, we can expect to get 1,000 bags of blood every day, which can cover up to 1,000 demands on daily basis. During the fasting month, however, we can normally only collect around 300 bags per day,” PMI Jakarta’s deputy director, Yudiartini, said on Thursday.
Ramadhan regularly witnesses shortages of blood as many believe, although the Indonesia Ulema Council (MUI) has declared it untrue, that donating blood is in opposition to fasting.
“Some also fear that donating blood during the fasting month is harmful to the body, but that is not true. What is important is that donors are in a fit condition,” Yudiartini said.
PMI Jakarta was taking certain measures to try and offset the shortage, but it was not easy. Yudiartini said they deployed mobile units to shopping malls and mosques, particularly during the evenings, and to churches and viharas during the weekends to net donors.
“We especially aim at non-Muslim donors as they are not fasting,” she said.
However, Yudiartini said, shifting to later hours or expanding campaigns to places of worship did not meet their target as they could only operate six of a total 17 mobile blood banks during Ramadhan.
“As there are not many requests for joint blood-drive events during Ramadhan, only six of our cars are operating,” she said, adding that 70 percent of the total blood secured by the organization on regular days was obtained from mobile units.
Yudiartini said what worried her the most was insufficient stocks prior to and following Idul Fitri, as most Jakartan donors would probably be leaving the city for their hometowns, while blood stocks could only be kept for four days before expiry.
The lack of voluntary donors, leads to the scarce blood stocks at the PMI — the only supplier of blood in the city — has compelled people to turn to direct donors, who donate their blood following requests by those in need.
Aci was not the only person bringing direct donors to PMI Jakarta headquarters that afternoon.
According to PMI Jakarta data, 157 out of 218 donors recorded at noon on Thursday were direct donors responding to specific requests for blood. Outside of Ramadhan, there may be only one or two requests for direct donors, usually from people who want their relatives to be donors.
Renta, 33, whose father recently underwent a blood transfusion in Cikini Hospital, Central Jakarta, said she had been asked by the hospital to replace the amount of blood given to her father as the hospital was running out of blood stocks.
She then visited the PMI in Jakarta, taking along four of her students from the state-owned Maritime Academy (STIP) who had agreed to help her.
“It was not easy for me to find donors during Ramadhan. I ended up having to seek help from my non-Muslim students,” she said. (aml)