Blood supplies hit a worrying low due to Omicron
That changed with Omicron.
The rapid spread of the coronavirus variant has put a damper on blood donation operations in Korea, putting patients like Kim’s husband at potential risk.
Campaign organizers say many people stopped going to blood donation centers in fear of getting Covid-19. Others were prohibited from donating because Covid-19 sufferers aren't allowed to give blood for four weeks after recovery.
Kim, who lives in Gyeonggi and refused to reveal her full name, says she’s afraid her husband may die. Supplies are so low that Kim has taken to social media in search of a directed donor — someone who would donate blood specifically for her husband. So far, no luck.
“The problem is, my husband can’t produce blood cells on his own,” says Kim. “People die without blood. I’m dying inside.”
Statistics from the Korean Red Cross Blood Services show that the number of donations from January to March was 523,009, down by nearly 70,000 compared to the same period last year. Group donations, in which people go in groups to donate blood, have slipped from over 60,000 in March 2021 to about 41,000 in March this year.
An official at a blood donation center run by the Korean Red Cross in Gwanghwamun, central Seoul said among some 70 people who drop by every day, about seven were former Covid-19 patients whose mandatory one-month recovery for donation has yet to pass, meaning they have to be turned away.
As of Monday afternoon, Korea had 2.8 days’ supply of blood, nearly half the standard reserve and far lower than the 7.6 days’ worth from early this year. When supplies fall under three days, the Korean Red Cross issues a blood shortage warning. By blood type, the Korean Red Cross said only type B had 3.5 days’ worth of supply, while type O had 2.4 days, type A 2.7 days and type AB 2.6 days.
A Korean Red Cross official urged the public to donate, saying that donations are the only way to boost the reserves.
BY YANG SU-MIN [email@example.com]