MOH Publications

Press Report on the MOH's Efforts Regarding Blood Donation
Under the theme “Give the gift of life: donate blood!”, countries worldwide, every year on 14 June, celebrate World Blood Donor Day with events to raise awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products, and to thank voluntary unpaid blood donors for their life-saving gifts of blood.
The Saudi Minister of Health (MOH), as represented by the Laboratories and Blood Banks General Department, shows keen interest in annually estimating the Kingdom's need for blood and blood products, according to the globally approved standards, generally classified into three broad standards:
  • Maintaining that about 1.5 – 2% of the number of population are ready for donation; given that this is the main source of blood, and that the expiry duration of blood is no more than 42 days.
  • Providing 7-10 blood units annually for each bed at MOH hospitals, as well as the hospitals of other health sectors.
  • Estimating the consumed or available amount of blood in the last year, and raising it by 5 – 10%, to accord with the population increase.
The Ministry of Health, through its various health programs and comprehensive strategic plans, has managed to achieve self-sufficiency as regards the needed blood groups. The Ministry depends, in maintaining blood, on the voluntary blood donations of citizens and residents (40%), and the compensatory donation for patients by their families and friends (50%), in addition to the citizens' donation when issuing driving license, under the Royal Decree stipulating moratorium on the importation of blood from abroad, since 1405H.
Besides, the Ministry has embarked on the implementation of a number of future projects, which have been already approved, in the field of blood transfusion medicine and services. Outstanding among such projects are:
  • Establishing nine regional laboratories and a central blood bank, in addition to four central blood banks across the Kingdom's regions, with the purpose of replacing the old ones; they are currently under construction. The department, in addition, is working on a plan aiming to centralize blood transfusion services, and thus reduce blood banks.
  • Establishing a plant for plasma products, and localizing this technology through partnership between the Ministry of Health and a national company acting as an agent for a renowned international company specialized in this domain. One of the provisions of the agreement stipulated granting the accreditation of the American Association for Blood Banks to Saudi blood banks.
  • The Ministry has recently equipped four vehicles to function as mobile blood banks pertinent to the central blood banks. They are found at places where blood donors are expected to be, such as sports clubs, malls, and governmental and private work places. The goal is to make blood donation easier. This is the first phase, and the second is currently underway.
The requirements listed by the Media Information and Health Awareness Center, pertinent to the Ministry of Health, for blood donation, include that blood donors have to be enjoying good health and feeling well. They have to be at least 18 years age (maximum age being: 65 years). Also, their weight should be at least 50 Kg. As for the hemoglobin level, it has to be 13 to 17.5 for men, and 12.5 to 14.5 for women. Pulse should be 50 to 100 beats/min and regular temperature should not exceed 37.5° C. The acceptable range of blood pressure is 180/100 to 100/60.
Advantages of blood donation, according to the report, include: stimulating the bone marrow to produce new red blood cells, white blood cells and platelet, refreshing the blood system, reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases, and getting rid of excess iron accumulated in our body which may lead to hemochromatosis.
The report touched upon some facts regarding blood donation. Among such facts is that: a healthy adult can donate blood without any risk. The body is able to compensate lost blood in 24 hours, but red blood cells take few weeks. A person can donate once every three months, but not more than five times in a year. People with health problems will have to refrain from donating blood. It is more appropriate for men to donate blood than women; due to such women-related circumstances as pregnancy, abortion, anemia, weight loss and other physiological changes.
Prominent among the precautions recommended by Media Information Center before and after blood donation is that there is no need to be fasting before donating. It is preferable to eat non greasy food before two hours from donation. After donating you sit in an observation area, where you rest and eat a light snack. After 10 to 15 minutes, you can leave. After your blood donation: drink extra fluids for the next day or two. And avoid strenuous physical activity or heavy lifting for the next five hours. If you feel lightheaded, lie down with your feet up until the feeling passes. Keep the bandage on your arm for at least  4 hours. If you have bleeding after removing the bandage, put pressure on the site and raise your arm for three to five minutes. If bleeding or bruising occurs under the skin, apply a cold pack to the area periodically during the first 24 hours.
Globally, at least 90 million units of blood are donated each year to save lives and improve health. Nevertheless, the demand for blood transfusion is on the increases, and many countries can’t meet their needs of blood. In many countries, this means inadequate supplies to replace the blood lost in childbirth and to treat anemia that threatens the lives of children who have malaria or undernourished. Everywhere, blood and blood products are needed for routine and emergency surgery, including life-saving treatment for growing numbers of people injured in traffic accidents, and for treating congenital blood disorders.
Usually, there are no side effects for blood donation. It is common to experience slight dizziness or lightheadedness after blood donation. Redness may occur in the injection area. The Media Information and Health Awareness Center has devoted its toll-free number for providing answers for the inquiries raised by citizens and residents regarding the method and importance of blood donation, as well as the increased need for safe blood, in addition to making clear that some people shall not donate blood for three years, others for one year, a third group will still have to refrain from blood donation for a shorter period than one year; not to forget the specialists' readiness for enumerating people permanently unqualified for blood donation.
It goes without saying, the Ministry of Health pays thorough attention to communication and coordination with international bodies in the area of blood transfusion services:

A) Since 2005, the Kingdom of Saudi has been annually participating in the meetings of the International Committee for Safety Blood and Blood Products, as a permanent member in this committee, which directly pertains to the World Health Organization (WHO).

B) The Kingdom is a permanent member at the Arab Commission for Blood Transfusion Services; it has headed the committee for a five-year term (since 2005 to 2010).
C) The Kingdom sends every year a comprehensive report to the WHO on the blood transfusion services in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Last Update : 11 September 2013 02:16 PM
Reading times :