Central Switzerland, 30.03.2020

Blood donation service thanks for solidarity

The blood donation service in Central Switzerland is experiencing a rush of donors. But as the blood only lasts six weeks, potential donors are being told to come back in a few weeks’ time.

Solidarity has many faces. In mid-March, the Swiss Red Cross called on the population to continue donating blood. As many donors were probably unsure whether coronaviruses could be transmitted via the blood, blood donations across Switzerland decreased by almost 30%.

The blood donation centres have experienced a real boom from then on, however. "We have received 20 % more blood donations in the past few days as at the same time last year," says Tina Weingand, chief physician of the blood donation service in Central Switzerland. She notes: Neither corona nor flu viruses have ever been detected in donated blood.

The boom has positive and negative sides for the blood donation service, says Weingand: “We are very pleased about the huge solidarity and would like to thank the donors. But the blood can only be kept for six weeks and donations can only be made every three months.” This means that the donations need to be distributed over a longer period of time. The blood donation service therefore asks that donors should make appointments for the next few weeks.

“We, and with us the hospitals, are, of course, still dependent on your support."

Amado Chami works for the Central Switzerland blood donation service in Lucerne.

Donors are advised to call in or to write an email. In this way, appointments can be better coordinated, and waiting times in front of the centre can be avoided. Donors may nevertheless be asked to wait outside, or in the cafeteria.

The measures imposed by the federal government also apply in the centres. According to Weingand, the distance rule applies to the receipt and completion of the form, as well as to the donation, where only every second bed is occupied. Disinfectants are available at the reception, and the employees wear protective masks. Donors will also be given a mask if they so wish.

Basically, all types of blood are welcome. According to Tina Weingand, people with blood group 0 and people with Rhesus Factor Negative are particularly in demand. Blood from people with 0 Positive can be donated to all people who have A, B, or AB positive. Donors with a negative rhesus factor can also give their blood to those who have a positive rhesus factor. But, as only 6% of the population has 0 negative, all donors are important, says Weingand.

Stay at home if you have flu symptoms
Anyone who feels sick, has had cold or flu symptoms within the past two weeks, has had close contact with patients with a confirmed coronavirus infection in the past two weeks, or has had a confirmed coronavirus infection within the last four weeks is not allowed to donate. It is also imperative to report if you become ill within two weeks of donating blood.

The current situation is very demanding for both blood donation services and hospitals. Weingand added: “Because the hospitals have switched to emergency operations only, and are only performing the most necessary operations, the blood requirement is currently covered. It's the calm before the storm.”

Furthermore, corona patients are not dependent on blood supplies. But other patients still need blood, for example those with leukaemia. The last worry that the hospitals should have in this emergency situation is that there is not enough blood.

You can find more information at https://luzern.blutspende.ch/. The central Switzerland blood donation service takes calls on 041 418 70 20. Mails to blutspendedienst@bsd-luzern.ch. There are blood donation centres in Lucerne, Sursee, Wolhusen, Zug, Stans and Schwyz.