What are the consequences of a lack of blood as summer approaches?

It is a precious liquid whose reserves often dwindle when summer arrives. But that has nothing to do with the heat. ” The national blood stock is currently around 80,000 bags, which is among the lowest levels ever. “, informs Hervé Meinrad, director of the collection of the French Blood Establishment.

The French Blood Establishment calls on donors

As a result, the EFS has just launched a new call for donors. Objective: to collect 30,000 additional pockets by the beginning of July. And thus be able to calmly approach the summer period, during which citizens are more difficult to mobilize.

Our health system has unfortunately had to get used to these periods of tension regarding the supply of blood products, in particular over the past two years, marked by confinements and health restrictions which may have kept some regulars away from collection centres. This forces the EFS to set up complex, just-in-time logistics.

The decrease in reserves may force us
to move blood bags from one region to another, because local stocks are not necessarily satisfied.

Hervé Meinrad (French Blood Establishment)

Stocks which, moreover, are likely to run out very quickly, because ” red blood cells have a lifespan of 42 days and platelets only 7 days. We need a continuous flow of blood “, adds the representative of the EFS.

Caregivers anxious amid low stocks

For the time being, the situation is not critical, but if it worsens, ” certain medical interventions could be deprogrammed in favor of emergency needs. What has never happened before “says Hervé Meinrad.

Blood donation, the head of Allier is sounding the alarm: “The situation is catastrophic”

An eventuality with which caregivers live, especially in those of the hematology departments (branch of medicine which studies the blood and the pathologies which are linked to it). ” We are more anxious during periods of low inventory. However, these are a little more frequent says Jacques-Olivier Bay, head of the hematology department at Clermont-Ferrand University Hospital.

He pursues :

Cancerous pathologies require treatments which are the cause of complications in the bone marrow, and we are obliged to transfuse the patients, continues the doctor. In the event of a major shortage, we could imagine having to reduce treatments and thus their toxicity, but also their effectiveness on the disease. But, fortunately, that never happened.

This scenario could have dramatic consequences. As Sabine Brechignac, hematologist at the Avicenne hospital in Bobigny, explains. ” Hematology patients need blood products (red blood cells, platelet, plasma) continuously. Postponing treatments could endanger the lives of some people. This scenario has never arisen, but it should not be completely excluded ».

The drop in blood stocks tends to increase the anxiety of hospital workers who are already often under stress – Photo d’illustration. Credit: Marion Boisjot

Lack of blood, extra pressure

On the other hand, the reduction in blood stocks puts additional pressure on hospital caregivers, who are already faced with reductions in resources and personnel. Thus, Sabine Brechignac believes that a ” disruption in the supply of blood products would considerably worsen the working conditions of caregivers ».

Jacques-Olivier Bay agrees: “ The problems encountered by the hospital are manifold. Tensions on blood products are an additional element that adds to our operating difficulties ».

Sophie Dimicoli, hematologist at the Bordeaux University Hospital, testifies for her part:

In a few months, we had to close six beds in our department, which has around fifty, for lack of nurses. And we are also forced to close six additional beds during the weekends,”

« We sometimes have to delay treatments. We do our best to take care of our patients. But things are getting tough », Alerts the practitioner. She continues: “ if at some point we ran out of blood cells – which fortunately is not the case today – we might have to make difficult choices ».

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