Doctors sound the alarm. Not only seasonally too little blood is donated in Germany. Above all, there are not enough young donors. In the medium term, medical standards can no longer be maintained.
Homburg/Cologne – In view of the declining blood donations, transfusion doctors believe that the supply of blood products in Germany is at risk in the medium term. “There is a blatant shortage in the blood banks,” said the director of the Institute for Clinical Hemostaseology and Transfusion Medicine at the Saarland University Hospital, Hermann Eichler, in Homburg of the German Press Agency. The reason is demographic change: “The generation of baby boomers is now reaching retirement age and is gradually falling out of the donor pool.” Sufficiently young donors who could compensate for this are not coming, said Eichler.
“The blood supply situation is precarious. Not just during the holiday season, not just because of Corona, but fundamentally precarious,” said the professor. If you don’t take countermeasures, it could be that medical standards can no longer be maintained in the future. “Then we simply don’t have the blood anymore.”
Few blood donations, empty blood banks: These are also topics at the 55th annual conference of the German Society for Transfusion Medicine and Immunohaematology (DGTI), which will meet in Mannheim from September 21st to 23rd. The specialist society urgently calls on citizens who are eligible to donate blood. In Germany, around 15,000 blood donations are needed every day after accidents, during operations, in intensive care units and in cancer therapy.
Saarland, for example, is “a blood shortage area”
Daily needs can fluctuate, as the corona pandemic has shown, said DGTI former President Eichler. At the beginning of the pandemic, consumption fell by around 30 percent because operations that could be planned were postponed. After the corona restrictions were lifted, interventions were made up for and the need for blood increased again. However, since many people are out and about in the summer, the number of blood donations has fallen.
Such seasonal fluctuations have also existed in the past. “But the fact that we have this demographic overlap, that you simply can’t do it with calls anymore, that’s new,” said the expert. Countermeasures with short-term measures are no longer possible. So not just a call for donations that 100 people came to, who then left again afterwards. “We need to ensure that the proportion of people who donate regularly increases.”
It is difficult to say what the current situation is in the federal states. “There is no nationwide level that you can call up,” said the doctor. It varies regionally. The Saarland, for example, is “an area of blood shortage: For years we have not been able to cover the regional needs of the state with donations”. Even during Corona, self-sufficiency could not be managed. Support came from Rhineland-Palatinate.
Who is actually donating?
According to a study in Saarland, which, according to Eichler, is of nationwide significance, a quarter of the donors – just under one percent of the population capable of donating – are responsible for almost half of the total blood donated. “And that 1 percent of the eligible population, between the ages of 18 and 65, is older, between 45 and 65. And now there is a risk of gradually falling out due to demographics.”
The DGTI, with its registered office in Offenbach am Main and its office in Cologne, is the scientific specialist society in the German-speaking area, in which all aspects relating to the treatment of patients with blood, cells and tissues are processed. dpa