Year : 2011 | Volume : 2 | Issue : 1 | Page : 7--14
Blood supply in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia– self-sufficiency and safety considerations
Abel Gader, Farga H Alqahtani, Abdulmajeed A Albanayan
The Blood Bank, King Khalid University Hospital The Blood Transfusion Research Group King Saud University Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
The transfusion of blood and its derivatives is a vital supporting service to clinical medicine. However, over the years, 2 considerations have been of major concern to both health planners as well as professionals in charge of blood banks, namely, self-sufficiency and safety. In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the blood transfusion service is predominantly a hospital-based blood banking system. Despite the shortcomings of this system, self-sufficiency has been attained with respect to fresh cellular components (packed red blood cells and platelet concentrates) and plasma derivatives (fresh frozen plasma and cryoprecipitate). However, since the requirement for hemotherapy is phasic in nature and variable in quantity, hospital blood banks are exposed to frequent shortages in the supply of single components when heavy demands of that component arise. As to the second issue of safety, specifically reducing the risk of infection with transfusion-transmitted pathogens, it is addressed satisfactorily by undertaking newly emerging screening assays, including nucleic acid testing[A4] for hepatitis B and C and human immunodeficiency viruses. The continuous expansion in the number and sophistication of assay techniques designed to detect an everincreasing number of pathogens leaves a lot to be desired. Malaria, for which there is no specific and sensitive screening test, remains a daunting challenge. Additionally, viral inactivation of the frequently consumed fresh frozen plasma as well as universal leucodepletion is yet to be implemented in all blood banks. Current efforts led by the Ministry of Health towards establishing a unified national blood transfusion service, based on non-remunerated voluntary donors, is a dream that should not take long to come true and will no doubt be the ultimate answer for self-sufficiency and safety.