Message from the President

2022/07/19


Affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the past two years, the whole world has had its hard time, with people from all walks of life facing many challenges, especially in medical issues. In 2021, Taiwan once raised the COVID-19 alert to Level 3 nationwide, impacting not only its economy and people's livelihood but also our blood-raising activities. As a result, the amounts of donated blood dropped sharply for a while.Fortunately, we managed to meet the clinical uses for patients in need of blood transfusion therapy.

The COVID-19 virus has no intermediate host. Thus, it is essential to maintain social distance so as to reduce the chance of infection. Nevertheless, keeping a distance means that all social activities must be minimized; some countries have even implemented lockdowns to confine people at home to minimize face-to-face contact, hoping to “suffocate” the virus. However, one of the downsides was that once social activities were reduced to a minimum, it would be very difficult for us to host blood donation activities, which are highly dependent on crowd gathering after all. Therefore, the epidemic prevention policies enforced by Level 3 alert had a great impact on our blood donation operations, because blood donation (either for disinfection or for blood collection) must be carried out in close contact. To make the situation even worse, blood cannot be stored for a long time, as blood cells have a limited lifespan. If no blood is donated within three to five days, there will be blood shortage, because blood is still irreplaceable so far.

Staying at home for epidemic prevention led to a sharp drop in blood donors, as schools, associations, and enterprises that used to conduct blood donation activities retreated to avoid crowd gatherings. We even had difficulties in finding a good place to park our bloodmobiles. After Level 3 alert was announced, those popular places for blood donation, which had been originally crowded with people, became empty instantly, making it difficult for us to raise blood. As a result, the blood safety stock in each blood center declined rapidly, even falling below the limit of four days into an emergency state of blood shortage and imposing a grave challenge to the lives and medical rights of those patients in urgent need of blood transfusion at the time.

Although the reduction in social activities, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, might have reduced the incidence of accidents such as car accidents and lessened the need for non-acute surgeries and medical care, the incidence of cancer would not decrease and many of its courses of treatment required blood transfusion without delay. Fortunately, we always have a group of regular blood donors to rely on. They are people who are not afraid of the COVID-19 pandemic, manage their own health well, and donate blood continuously. This group of "Bodhisattva-like blood donors" is really admirable. As they aim to donate blood regularly, they become so highly self-disciplined to maintain good health, in order that they can provide good quality blood for patients to use and they can donate blood successfully every time. As blood donors, they not only set up such goals for themselves but also encourage each other to fulfill them. They are really lovely and respectable. This group of regular blood donors did not receive any money in return. What they got was spiritual satisfaction and happiness. They donate blood for a simple reason: to save life. It was also because of them that our medical care service did not stagnate. “Give blood save lives”, but sometimes saves a family. We should pay the highest respect to this group of "Bodhisattva-like blood donors" and give them the biggest applause.

Although Taiwan has the highest nonremunerated blood donation rate in the world, we have suffered from an occasional shortage of the sources of blood supply in recent years. In response to the potential worry of blood shortage in the future, we have taken various measures to stabilize the sources of blood supply. For example, we introduced the concept of "Patient Blood Management (PBM)" in 2020 and invited various specialists to compile the "Practical Blood Transfusion Manual", which was published in June 2020 and whose second edition has been currently revised and is expected to be published in June 2022. It is hoped that this manual can not only provide physicians with more comprehensive blood transfusion modes but also assist hospitals in promoting blood saving in clinical use, so that various blood components can be transfused more accurately and effectively to patients undergoing blood transfusion so as to achieve the goal of preventing adverse blood transfusion reactions and effectively reducing medical costs.

In 2021, we at the Taiwan Blood Services Foundation (TBSF) presented the theme: "Comprehensive Blood Quality Control : The Unique Blood Management Information System with Ubiquitous Intelligence in Taiwan", which not only gained for us the "SNQ (Symbol of National Quality) Certification—Medical Periphery Category/Public Service Group” but was also honored with the bronze medal award in the “National Biotechnology and Medical Care Quality Award” contest. This is the fifth time that our TBSF has won the award, meaning that we have been highly affirmed by the country.This blood management information system, which is fully digitized to shorten the time difference and provide more timely services, has built in an intelligent expert mode to assist in reviewing the qualifications of blood donors and fully connecting the donation and blood supply processes to improve the efficiency of blood management and improve blood safety. We hope that this technology-based and digital services can also improve the experience of blood donors in blood donation.

TBSF has not only used an all-round information system to track the whole process of blood history so that safe blood becomes the support and backing of the medical system for people's health but has fully mobilized its resources to maintain a safe blood supply of medical use under the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to the selfless dedication of regular blood donors from all walks of life. In the future, we will continue to manage ourselves with a positive and rigorous attitude. Upholding the concept of "Happy Blood Donation and Safe Blood Use", we will keep on improving to create a better blood donation environment and provide
high-quality blood for clinical needs.

President
Sheng-Mou Hou

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