SINGAPORE: This week, the Singapore Red Cross (SRC) and the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) together underlined that the stocks of Group O blood in Singapore are at very low levels and called out for donors who are “critically needed.”

Studies show that patients aged 65 years and older receive more than half of blood transfusions, as many suffer from anaemia, a condition where the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells.

The SRC and HSA said on Jan 25 that there has been a “lower than normal blood donor turnout since the beginning of 2024.” This is why it calls for donors over the two weeks leading up to the Chinese New Year holidays so that stocks of type O blood can be restored to healthy levels.

“Group O blood stocks have dipped below 6 days and are currently at critical levels due to high usage of these blood types,” the two agencies stated in a joint release.

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The drop in type O blood comes at a time when the number of young blood donors has gone down. In 2011, 33 per cent of blood donors were from the ages of 16 to 25.  In 2022, this had decreased to 17 per cent; in 2023, it further decreased to 15 per cent.

“As the universal blood group, group O blood is required during emergencies when patients’ blood groups are unknown. Furthermore, nearly half of all patients in Singapore have group O blood and can only receive group O blood.

If group O blood stocks continue to drop, elective surgeries will have to be postponed and life-saving transfusions could also be compromised,” said the Red Cross and HSA.

Timing is key because blood donation typically decreases during festive seasons, sometimes by as much as 20 per cent. The SRC and HSA deemed it “crucial” that the further depletion of Group O blood stocks be prevented for patients needing transfusions.

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The two agencies are calling on people who are healthy and eligible to donate blood who are between 16 and 60 years old and weigh at least 45 kg “to step forward and contribute.”

“Donors are encouraged to donate before their travels as travelling to certain countries or regions in some countries with insect-borne infection risks may make them ineligible to donate blood for a period of time.

Each donation is crucial to ensure that we can maintain a minimum 9-day stockpile to respond to any civil or medical emergencies in Singapore,” the statement adds. /TISG

Read also: SG Red Cross: Give blood near your home