Fewer people giving blood during pandemic

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Blood donor day at ERR in 2019. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The coronavirus pandemic has had a negative effect on blood donor rates in Estonia, data shows. The trend for donations has in any case been one of decline in recent years, however.

The National Institute for Health Development (TAI) reported a 2 percent drop on donations on year to 2020, to 29,927, or around 600 people fewer than the previous year.

The picture was exacerbated by a rise in those presenting to donate blood who were declared not fit to do so, for whatever reason, while coronavirus restrictions meant blood drives and other events, and the working of blood donor centers, were all hampered.

General trend in recent years has been for a fall

Ingrid Valdmaa, TAI health statistics analyst, said on Friday´that: "The number of blood donors has been on the decline for the past seven years, but in the past three years the rate of decline has been a bit smaller.

"We are glad to note that despite the various restrictions valid during the corona pandemic, most donors nevertheless turned out to donate blood," Valdmaa went on, according to BNS.

"The numbers of people being sidelined from blood donorship due to non-medical reasons and, to some extent, due to the presence of infectious agents transmitted with blood have increased the most," Valdmaa added

While donors in general fell by 2 percent in 2020, with older donors, the decline was even higher, at 3 percent.

Nearly 10 percent rise in those declared unsuitable to donate blood

By gender, while male blood donor numbers fell by 3 percent on year to 2020, for females the figure was just 2 percent.

There was also a 9 percent rise in those declared unfit to donate blood, either temporarily or permanently. This can depend on a range of factors, including health, nationality, drug use and more.

The total number of donations came to 52,282, down from 53,445 in 2019, BNS reports, while donors gave blood an average of 1.7 times last year, down slightly on 1.8 times the year before – in other words repeat donors were slightly down.

An average of 450 ml of blood was donated per session.

In terms of practical use, over 15,000 hospitalized patients received donated blood in 2020, 3 percent of whom were aged 14 or under.

Fewer than 500 donor days were held nationwide, compared with 620 in 2019 – again the result of restrictions; the proportion of total blood collected at such days also fell, to 35 percent, from 40 percent in 2019.

Hospitals have nonetheless made several appeals for blood donations during the pandemic, particularly early on, in spring 2020, when fears abounded that stocks would run out.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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