Blood donations continue to decline: "We don't trust the Red Crescent"

Blood donations continue to decline: "We don't trust the Red Crescent"
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Due to decreasing confidence in the Red Crescent, blood supply is declining. Despite efforts to promote blood donations through social media campaigns, the existing supply indicates that these efforts may be insufficient.

SEDA TASKIN- After the earthquakes in Maras, trust in the Turkish Red Crescent was shaken due to the organization selling tents for money where it should have been freely distributing them. One of the consequences of this was a decrease in blood donations. The Red Crescent is the only organization in Turkey that can collect blood donations and holds the blood supply, but after the earthquake, the organization's inadequacy and for-profit business-like behavior caused major problems and voluntary blood donations were affected.

Reports emerged in the public that many hospitals were unable to perform surgeries due to the depletion of the blood supply. Although there has been some partial improvement, the supply still falls below 50,000 units, according to Ramazan Saygili, the Secretary General of Turkish Red Crescent who made an appeal for blood donations.

We spoke with Vedat Bulut, the Secretary General of the Turkish Medical Association (TTB), citizens who donated blood in front of the blood bank, and Dr. Farahnaz Tahiry, who works at the Red Crescent blood center, about the current state of the total supply.


Secretary General of the TTB Vedat Bulut stated that while there is usually a slight dip in donations during the month of Ramadan every year, this year's decrease is not solely due to Ramadan, but also due to the loss of confidence in the Red Crescent. Bulut noted that there is typically a decrease in blood donations during Ramadan compared to other months, but that this year's data showed a sharper decrease than previous years, stating "the loss of trust in the Red Crescent has had an impact on this year's numbers." Bulut mentioned that there is only a two to three-day supply of blood left, and many surgeries have become impossible to perform. Bulut continued his speech as follows:

"A blood donor is needed. In many surgeries, blood bags are prepared in case of potential bleeding while the patient is on the operating table. Without these blood bags, surgeries cannot proceed. Many surgeries, especially in cardiovascular surgery, general surgery, and orthopedics, have started to experience delays. The decrease in the availability of AB Rh negative or AB Rh positive blood types poses a significant danger in finding blood for these stocks."


Bulut pointed out that in Turkey, whole blood donation has not been practiced for many years, and instead, erythrocyte suspension is given to those in need of blood. Bulut stated, "Preparation and delivery of suspensions also take some time. We urge our citizens to donate blood to prevent loss of life. While the Turkish Red Crescent may recover and regain its former respected status, those lives lost cannot be brought back. Moreover, these individuals could be our own loved ones, and we call on everyone to be conscientious." Bulut further mentioned that in Western countries, rapid resignations are seen in such situations to restore trust, but this culture has not developed in Turkey.


After TTB General Secretary Bulut's statements, we went to the blood donation point of the Turkish Red Crescent located in Guvenpark in Ankara to observe the situation. Meric Sarikaya, who was standing in front of the blood donation center, mentioned that her grandfather would undergo surgery in the hospital and needed blood. Sarikaya stated that she had read news in the media about the Turkish Red Crescent selling blood, and said, "People's trust in the Turkish Red Crescent has been shaken, but at the same time, there is still a need for blood. I leave it up to everyone's conscience in this matter."


A citizen who did not want to give their name, in front of the blood donation center of the Turkish Red Crescent, stated that they came to donate blood due to the decrease in blood supplies and said, "We do not trust the Turkish Red Crescent, but if blood is needed, we must donate. I haven't donated blood for many years, but when I heard that surgeries were being paused and that there was a need for blood, I came immediately. Hopefully, they are not selling our blood, and we donate with the hope that they are not."

Dr. Farahnaz Tahiry, who works at the blood center of the Turkish Red Crescent, spoke to Arti Gercek and said that the decrease in blood supplies still continues. Tahiry stated that they are making blood donation calls through their personal social media accounts and said, "We are making this call to our entire circle. We try to spread the word by sharing videos that are sent to us. People who I, as a foreigner, appeal to also come to donate blood. There are people who respond to the campaigns and it is effective. We call on everyone to donate blood."