Porto’s IPO warns of declining blood donor numbers and appeals for platelet donations.

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The Portuguese Institute of Oncology (IPO) in Porto has been recording a “worrying downward trend” in blood donations since 2021, and fears that “constraints” could worsen over the festive season, so it is launching an appeal for donations.

Porto's IPO warns of declining blood donor numbers and appeals for platelet donations.

Today, on World Blood Donor Day, the head of the immunotherapy department at Porto’s IPO reminded the Lusa news agency that “transfusion therapy is a fundamental therapy for cancer patients” and that “blood stocks are always limited because blood products also have an expiration date”.

“We have patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy, we have major oncological surgery, the marrow transplant sector and pediatric patients who consume a lot of blood components. As far as red blood cell concentrates are concerned, on the basis of a normal donation, we are self-sufficient and have had no problems. But as an oncology hospital, we have the particularity of consuming a lot of platelets, and this specific donation needs to be increased”, said Maria Rosales Sueiro.

Maria Rosales Sueiro
Maria Rosales Sueiro

From January to May this year, the Porto IPO recorded around 3,500 donations, an average of 22 whole blood donors per day, but only four apheresis platelet donors per day.

In the summary sent to Lusa, this institution believes that these figures are not sufficient to guarantee self-sufficiency.

“It is very important to raise public awareness and strengthen the call for blood donation, especially during this holiday season,” the appeal reads.

Maria Rosales Sueiro added that in 2022 compared with 2021, the number of donors has fallen by around 15%.

Speaking to Lusa, the immunotherapist said that “this trend is continuing and it worries” the IPO.

“We want the population, especially the young and healthy, to mobilize and see donation as an opportunity to contribute to society,” she said.

Maria Rosales Sueiro admits that this is a “post-pandemic trend, or that people are less motivated by altruistic acts given economic and social difficulties and political concerns”, but she stresses that “patients still exist and still need help”.

Speaking about the platelet donation modality that allows patients to be exposed to a single donor, Maria Rosales Sueiro said that “many chemotherapy treatments lead to a decrease in platelet count”.

“There can be a risk of bleeding and we need to guard against this with platelet transfusions,” he explained.

Platelet donation by apheresis, which requires good venous access and can take longer (around 45 minutes), can be performed more frequently, even monthly.

At the Porto IPO, the donor first makes a whole blood donation and, after getting to know the service and the professionals, can schedule a specific platelet donation.

The blood donation service at IPO Porto operates from 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday to Friday, and from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays.

The Federation calls for blood donors to regain the right to take time off work

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