CAIRO: Despite intense efforts exerted by different organizations to allay the public s fear of tainted blood banks in the wake of the Hidelina blood bags scandal, blood donations have significantly decreased.
Medical authorities are warning of a severe shortage of blood supplies putting patients’ lives at risk.
The blood bags scandal sparked uproar after some 200,000 polluted bags used to package donated blood were seized from the ministry of health’s stores in connection with an ongoing scandal involving Hani Surur, a member of parliament and the owner of Hidelina Factory for blood bags.
The Hidelina incident prompted blood donors to shun blood banks.
Hamdy El Sayed, president of the doctors’ syndicate, said the national center of blood banks has announced that blood donation rates dropped to 75 percent after the last blood bags scandal.
“It was expected that blood donation would be negatively affected by the latest blood bags scandal. The exaggeration and over reaction that took place [in the media] about that issue made people strongly disregard blood donations, El Sayed told The Daily Star Egypt.
He added that people now consider blood to be polluted and think they would suffer from severe side effects from blood donation, but they are never aware of its positive consequences.
“Not only does the donator benefit the society and practice a religious virtue, but it psychically helps in the renewal and the activation of the blood on the human body, El Sayed said.
El Sayed said that the syndicate exerts efforts to raise awareness on the importance of blood donations.
He also called the media work towards education and allaying public fears of tainted blood supplies.
“Starting next Sunday, the syndicate will locate several blood donation vans in front of the different syndicates of Egypt; to eliminate the negative influence people have about blood donation, said El Sayed.
Faten Mosbah, president of the National Blood Bank, was unavailable to comment on the issue.
Mahmoud Hilal, resident physician in Ain Shams Hospital Clinical Blood Bank told The Daily Star Egypt that there has never been a question of quality of blood in Egypt.
Blood donors regardless of anything have nothing to fear, they are the ones giving out blood not taking it, Hilal said.
Earlier, Minister of Heath Dr. Hatem El Gabaly told the Shura Council that there has never been a single case of tainted blood reported by the ministry since Hidelina began its operation.
The latest problem of Hidelina Company was in the bags itself not in the blood inside it, Hilal said confirming El Gabaly s opinion.
There is no possible way to give patients polluted blood because the procedures that have to take place before blood gets transferred to the patient ensure the blood’s safety, Hilal added.
When a blood bank receives blood bags, they go through a series of chemical separation processes to separate blood components to use them for different needs, according to Hilal.
The only reason the Ain Shams Blood Bank refused to take Hidelina blood bags was due their size, which was bigger than the size of the equipments the hospital uses for the separation process, Hilal said.
The Ministry of Health did not comment.