Mardi 1 Décembre, 2020

Haiti-blood: universal donors O- are only 3% of the population

"This is an extremely rare blood group, all over the world," explained Dr. Ernst Noël, director of the National Blood Transfusion Center (CNTS). Loop Haiti spoke with the specialist after the death of a woman who had just given birth to her first children due to lack of blood, Sunday, October 20.

According to the head of the National Center for Blood Transfusion (CNTS), blood deficiency in blood banks in Haiti is a serious problem. It's not just about the O-group, he notes. In fact, hinted the doctor, Haiti can not even produce half the amount of blood necessary for the care of patients over a period of one year.

In order to be able to assist everybody when the need arises, it would be necessary to produce between 60 and 80 thousand blood bags a year. However, "we can not even produce 30 thousand all year round," laments Doctor Christmas.

But this general rarity is further accentuated when, in particular, we speak of the blood group O of negative rhesus (O-). In this sense, for hospitals to continue to save lives, it is extremely important that people learn to donate their blood. And not only when there is an emergency.

 

O-, about 3% of the Haitian population

On Saturday, October 19, Loop Haiti published a call for help for a woman who had just given birth to her first two children. The patient, admitted to a hospital in the capital, needed blood urgently.

The problem is that it was of group O negative and that there was no more of this blood in stock, according to the authorities contacted. Despite the steps, promises of volunteers and the fact that the mother was treated with fresh frozen plasma, the woman lost her life on the morning of October 20th. A shock for her family and for many people on the internet.

This case of death brought back to the table the question of blood transfusion in general and the availability of O negative blood in the country in particular. This group, although not the rarest in the world, remains the most sought after because of its importance.

O-people are often referred to as "universal donors". Their red blood cells have no antigen rejected by different blood groups, they can give blood to all other groups according to the French paper Le Parisien. But the problem is that a person in this group can only receive blood from his or her pair. So in an emergency, the absence of a donor and the unavailability of this blood can be fatal for these patients.

In Haiti, as everywhere else, "there is always a lack of blood from the O-group," explains Dr. Noel of the National Center for Blood Transfusion (CNTS). He stressed that this reality is due in particular to the fact that only about three percent (3%) of the Haitian population belongs to this group. In addition, he says, the majority - more than 80% - of O negative people comes from the Far North of the country (North, Northwest, Northeast). According to the studies, the further away from the departments of the Far North, the fewer people you will found with blood O with Rh negative.

Why is there no blood in Haiti?

In general, we do not collect enough blood in Haiti to help people in need. One of the factors explaining this state of affairs is that Haitians do not have the culture of blood donation. Few people do this exercise. It is primarily those who have a family member or a loved one is in a hurry who do it. They are called "family donors" (75% of donors in Haiti).

"People always wait when a loved one is in need to donate blood, which is not a good thing". 

Second group of blood donors: the volunteers. They represent between 20 to 25% of the donors in the country. These are usually part of a group of volunteer and regular donors. There are associations like the Club of the Red Cross that promote this cause. But in a time of crisis like the one that knows the country for about two months, the rate of donation decreases considerably. Which contributes in a sense to the accentuation of the deficiency.

Hence the importance, says Dr. Ernst, that people participate and contribute, as often as possible, to the efforts of the relevant entities in blood collection. To achieve this, he acknowledges, we should have a citizen campaign on the importance of blood donation in the country. Which requires money but especially the contribution of all: the media, schools, churches, youth associations among others have their role to play.

 

Raoul Junior Lorfils

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