Christmas holiday rush a worrying time for Sweden's blood banks
The upcoming Christmas holidays are a major problem for the country's blood banks, with many people struggling to find time to donate blood next week. And a warning has gone out that stocks may be running low in many regions for the year ahead.
The Christmas and New Year celebrations mean many blood centres close over the holiday period. Next week is seen as a crucial window for donors to drop in and give blood before they take their holidays.
But people are stressed and the blood banks say it's an annual problem to get people to take the time to give blood.
"We fight for people's leisure time. Many are stressed and find it difficult to find time to give blood, but it only takes 30 minutes," Ingrid Johansson at the blood bank in Skåne tells news Agency TT.
Now Sweden's blood banks are warning that stocks may be low by January and in several parts of the country there could be a shortage of blood.
Around 100,000 Swedes receive annual blood transfusions and a third of them are directly life saving. There are 380 000 registered donors in the country, and around 220,000 people give blood on average twice a year, that's about 450 000 blood bags.
There is usually enough blood but only by a narrow margin. And ahead of the long Christmas weekend, blood centres will be strained. When the New Year begins, the reserves of blood will be low in many parts of the country, unless donors do their bit next week.
In Gavleborg, there is a blood shortage, and during Christmas week, they need blood in all blood groups. There is also a shortage in Linköping, which urgently needs to replenish stocks of the blood types A and B.
"To cope with the holidays we need to remind the country's blood donors to give blood over Christmas and New Year. At Linköping, we use 22,000 bags a year, so we need a lot of blood," says Enisa Deumic, communication manager at the blood bank central in Östergötland, which covers Linköping University Hospital.
"In Östergötland, there are 18000 active blood donors and for next week we have called 1700 of them and we are hoping that around 800-1000 give blood, to get the blood stocks up before the holidays," she says to Radio Sweden.
January tends to be a critical month and it is worse in the big cities where the major hospitals are located. In specialist units, such as cancer care or maternity wards, there is a high demand for blood. But blood centres must also have reserves that can be used for major accidents.