More voluntary blood donors needed in Mexico

The World Health Organization (WHO) invited nations to make 80% of donations voluntary by 2020, but in Mexico, 9 out of 10 donors only give blood for replacements
More voluntary blood donors needed in Mexico
IMSS has 56 banks, where 152,227 gallons of blood are obtained each year - Photo: Jorge Alvarado/EL UNIVERSAL
14/06/2018
14:27
Perla Miranda
Mexico City
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In Mexico, only 3% of blood donors do so for altruistic reasons while the remaining 97% of donations are for blood replacement, meaning that people usually donate only when a family member or friend is undergoing an emergency intervention.

Although the National Blood Transfusion Center has 587 blood banks spread across the country, at clinics from the Ministry of Health, the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS), the Institute of Social Security and Social Services for State Workers (ISSSTE), PEMEX, the Ministry of National Defense (SEDENA), the Ministry of the Navy (SEMAR), some universities, regional transfusion centers, and the private sector, only an average of 1,700,000 voluntary donations are received yearly, whereas the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that there be 5 million.

A blood supply report for Latin-American countries and the Caribbean indicated that out of 36 countries in the region, only 10 have managed to have all their donations be voluntary. These countries are: Cuba, Nicaragua, Aruba, Bermuda, Curazao, Guadalupe, Guyana, the Caiman Islands, Martinique, and Surinam.

The World Health Organization (WHO) invited nations to make 80% of donations voluntary by 2020, but in Mexico, 9 out of 10 donors only give blood for replacements. This makes it very hard for patients with rare blood types to obtain blood when it is needed.

Today, on World Blood Donor Day 2018, people in Mexico will be invited to participate in voluntary blood donation systems. However, there is a lot to be done in the establishment of National blood donation systems, many of which don’t guarantee blood access and availability of safe blood products.

“If we want to reach the 100% goal of voluntary blood donations, the organization of health services, particularly in terms of blood donation, must become more efficient,” stated Carissa Faustina Etienne, director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

Laura Edith Ángeles Márquez, head of the Blood Bank laboratory at the La Raza Medical Center commented that IMSS has 56 banks, where 152,227 gallons of blood are obtained each year. That blood benefits thousands of beneficiaries, but most of it is acquired through patients’ family members.

“Our mission is to obtain our blood from any type of donor, be it family members or voluntary donors. It is our job to conduct serological and bacteriological tests to ensure the quality of the blood that patients are to receive for different types of treatment,” she explained.

At this blood bank, voluntary donation only makes up around 2% of blood donations, on average. In a single month, only 10 to 14 people come voluntarily when there should be around 9,000 donors each month: “Only on very specific occasions, such as the disaster from the last earthquake, people come to donate blood. There is also World Blood Donor Day, when we receive the most people willing to donate blood.”

Ángeles Márquez considers that these numbers are a result of a lack of awareness and education: “It is vital that we inform on the value of blood donations, not only for pregnant women or people in need of transfusions, but also for organ transplants, where large amounts of blood are needed.”

Each blood unit is subject to several tests that assess whether or not the blood is free of infections. Once the samples are studied, blood units are split for blood components. In other words, the blood is split into concentrated red blood cells, platelets, and blood plasma. This process optimizes the blood supply.

Genetically, the most common blood type among the population of Mexico City’s metropolitan area is O+ (60%), followed by A+, B+ and A/B+. Blood types (RH) A, O, B, and A/B- are less frequent, and only 3% of the population has them.

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