Shanghai is rolling out a blood-drive to make up for a shortfall in supplies of type-A and type-O blood, according to the municipal Blood Administration Office.
People have been donating less blood in recent weeks because of the heavy rains that have been falling on Shanghai, said Song Qi, a spokesman for the office. He added that demand for the two blood types had been strong throughout the year.
"I don't know why, but it seems fewer patients have needed type-B blood since the beginning of the year," Song said.
The office has called on healthy residents aged between 18 and 55 to donate blood at any of the office's 14 donation rooms or blood-collecting buses. The buses have taken up positions near busy areas in the city's center, such as the People's Square, the pedestrian street of Nanjing Road, Xujiahui square, Jing'an park, the Oriental Pearl and the railway station square.
Such buses can also be found at East China Normal University and Shanghai University of Sport during the weekend to receive donations from students and teachers.
Shanghai has an overall blood-storage capacity of 5,000 units, though supplies of types A and O are down to only 400-500 units each. One unit roughly equals 200 ml of blood.
Song said that demand for blood is very high in Shanghai, generally surpassing more than 1,000 units per day. Most of the city's supply comes from donations. "Large amounts of blood are required for organ transplants," Song said.
Improvements in the quality of medical care available in Shanghai have contributed to an increase in the frequency of such services. The city's rapidly ageing population and the presence of patients from other provinces and regions have added to the demand for blood.
In addition, the Ministry of Health last year issued a regulation saying that blood destined to be used in local clinics should be collected locally, Song said.
"Shanghai used to borrow blood from other provinces every year, but this year we have not borrowed a single bag of blood," he said. Now 83 percent of the blood supply comes from public donations in Shanghai.
"We had expected to use 380,000 units of blood this year, but we've surpassed that amount by 10,000 units," said Song. "Blood donations are often affected by the weather or season, but there are no high or low seasons for clinical usage of blood," he said. "Donating blood won't affect your health."
(China Daily December 4, 2006)