Demand for blood will increase as Guyana ramps up organ transplant services

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
Director of the National Blood Transfusion Services Dr Pedro Lewis

The Health through the National Blood Transfusion Services (NBTS) will be increasing blood donation efforts for 2024 as the country moves to conduct more organ transplant surgeries.

This is according to the Director of the NBTS, Dr Pedro Lewis during an interview with this publication, who added that the unit is ramping up efforts to encourage more blood donors.

He added too, that the units of blood processed for 2023 thus far, have surpassed that of the previous year.

According to data provided by the agency, 400 blood drives were conducted last year across the ten administrative regions of Guyana, resulting in the collection of 11,225 units of blood, which is approximately 1,300 units more than in previous years.

Of the 11,225 units, 400 were disposed after being tested for infectious makers like Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), among others.However, for 2024 thus far, some 5000 units were processed for use and according to Dr. Lewis, this figure highlights the agency’s ability to meet its current monthly quota.

“So we look at roughly about 1000 units a month. We want to aim higher, like 1,200 units a month, right? That’s a lot of blood, but of course, you may notice that the amount of development that goes on in the health sector, right? Guyana wants to do more heart surgeries, now we’re doing, in the past, we used to do heart surgeries every quarter, we’re doing heart surgeries every month and we got to ramp up our system to suit the needs of those patients,” Dr Lewis disclosed.

Further, Dr Lewis explained that while the National Blood Transfusion Services is working to increase its collection service, investments are being made simultaneously for the procurement of equipment.

On this point, he disclosed that the agency recently welcomed new technological advancements aimed at reducing its blood testing turnover time as well as properly storing units.

“So, we purchase equipment basically to increase, the speed in which we do the work, turnover time, I must say, because you don’t want to have the blood in the system for a long period. In the past, we used to have a turnover time of four hours. Now, probably in an hour, we could test our samples.”

Surgeries

In 2023, the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPHC) successfully executed some 12, 495 surgeries, of which 876 were elective, 587 minor surgeries, 845 emergency surgeries, and 56 hernias.

Procedures range from the complex spine, plastic, vaginal, skin, neurological, ligament reconstruction, and joint replacement surgeries.

Meanwhile, the orthopedics department provides care to a total of 2,550 new patients and 9, 356 revisiting patients this year.

This was the result of 17 surgical missions facilitated that year through partnerships with Mount Sinai, McMaster University and North Well Health, and Operation Walk, among others.

These initiatives also provided the opportunity for doctors to learn new clinical skills and understand how international institutions function so that Guyana can adopt new medical techniques and best practices.