One of the vital elements for survival in a crisis is a steady high-quality blood supply.
In Gaza these days, that is not guaranteed. Recently, the Gaza Central Blood Bank Society (CBBS) ran out of blood bags completely.
Finding enough blood bags in Gaza is nearly impossible, largely due to the 10-year blockade, the lack of funds and limited access to medicine and health care supplies. The CBBS was forced to borrow a small supply from Al Shifa hospital for surgical use, but they did not have any left over. “We have had to rebuff blood donors two or three times. We explained the problem but I’m worried they won’t come back and we always need to keep the blood bank up to date,” says Sahar Abu Sido, who has been working at the Gaza Central Blood Bank Society since 1984.
The blood bank plays a critical role in providing major Gaza hospitals with blood during emergencies. Proper equipment and a steady supply of blood are essential. “When the blood bank lacks certain items, that’s an emergency in itself,” said Sahar.
"When the blood bank lacks certain items, that's an emergency in itself."
The lack of enough blood bags on hand for donations is one such emergency. “In the past two months, we had to cancel our blood donations and call off all of our public blood collection campaigns because we didn’t have enough bags,” she added.
As the holy month of Ramadan nears, health workers are concerned about the reduced number of blood donations and the lack of blood bags. “While people fast during Ramadan, blood donations usually decrease. So the pressure increases to collect blood units, taking into account that these units have to be tested and checked to ensure they’re free from infections,” Sahar explains.
Urgent Delivery of Blood Bags Arrive
Recently, Anera was able to provide the blood bank with equipment, furniture and a new 66KVA generator, a reliable power source to sustain its operations thanks to Anera’s donors committed to Gaza relief.
The blood bank asked for help and Anera’s in-kind medical relief team responded quickly to get 8,700 blood bags brought in from the West Bank. Sahar sighed with relief when she saw the first 520 blood bags arrive.
Thanks to Anera’s help, the Gaza Central Blood Bank Society has blood bags available to cover their needs for one month until the rest of Anera’s next planned shipment arrives. Once in Gaza, the blood bank says the supply should support its needs for a year.
“ No words can describe that moment when we can say ‘yes’ the blood you need is on the way," said Sahar.
Sahar is relieved that a crisis has been avoided…for now. “The day we received the first shipment of blood bags, we immediately reactivated our blood collection campaign and collected 92 blood units in one day.”
For Sahar, making sure there is a supply of blood available for Gaza emergencies is a lifetime commitment. “Nothing gives me more satisfaction than knowing that we have blood available to respond for an emergency to help in someone in a life-threatening situation. No words can describe that moment when we can say ‘yes’ the blood you need is on the way.”
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