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More blood donations needed to meet demand of ageing populations

A study shows that more blood donors will be needed in the future to cater for the ‘grey tsunami of ageing populations’ and the complex surgeries they will be getting.

In ten years time, more blood donors will be needed.
In ten years time, more blood donors will be needed.
Image: Valentina Petrova/AP

NEW RESEARCH HAS found that due to an ageing population, more blood donations will be needed in the future to meet the ten per cent projected increase in the demand for blood.

The Lancet reports that due to people getting older, there will be more complex surgical procedures such as joint replacements and cancer therapy. It describes this problem as “one of the most critical challenges facing transfusion medicine”.

In the next ten years, demand will increase

Lorna Williamson from the UK’s NHS Blood and Transplant and Dana Devine from Canadian Blood Services, who conducted the research said that during the next five to ten years, blood availability in developed countries will need to increase:

Health-care systems will be managing the so-called grey tsunami of ageing populations for decades to come. As a result of medical progress during the past decade, major surgery can be done without donor transfusion… However, ageing populations lead to increases in complex surgical procedures for which transfusions are still necessary.

They have looked into some alternative ways of attracting the blood donors needed.

They suggest that social media should be harnessed to bring awareness about blood donation. They suggest Facebook, Twitter and Spotify will play a key role in enlisting new donors, stating:

These are  social norms that blood services must use to enlist and retain young donors. An interactive website for donors with discussion boards, online appointment booking, and news sections could increase donor loyalty.

With further development, this approach could also allow donors to complete health-check questionnaires online at home, avoiding a wasted journey if they are ineligible to donate.

It is important to ensure that “every transfusion is necessary and appropriate, and that wastage is minimised,” they added.

Read: Heart transplant gives mother a new life>

Read: Bikers give up free time to help cut HSE’s €28m taxi bill>

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