The solution would be a process that could artificially replace human blood, and particularly the red blood cells that carry oxygen.

Medicine has been working on this for a long time, and there have always been promising approaches - but so far there has been no breakthrough.

And so hospitals and drug manufacturers continue to depend on blood donations to ensure patient care.

But that is extremely difficult at the moment.

Because many clinics are still catching up on operations that have been postponed due to the pandemic, the need for blood products has increased enormously in recent months.

At the same time, however, the willingness to donate blood has fallen noticeably.

Marie Lisa Kehler

Deputy head of the regional section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

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A spokesman for the Hessen/Baden-Württemberg blood donation service warns: "The situation is critical to threatening." The reasons for the reluctance of the donors are a mystery to those responsible.

The good weather could have an impact on people's leisure activities, speculates the spokesman, who has often observed similar trends in early summer.

In the past, however, these would only have caused a slump of a few days, but not of several weeks.

“We didn't just have one winter, but two years of restrictions in which we couldn't do anything.

People want to catch up on everything.” And so the blood donation services hope that after a phase of letting off steam there will be a return to old habits – and thus a willingness to donate blood.

“Every day we lack ten percent of the required donations.

That adds up to a critical condition,” the spokesman continues.

In the past few days, the hospitals in the region have already been informed about the blood shortage.

Should inventories continue to shrink - currently there is enough stock for 1.8 days - some interventions would have to be postponed.

“I have never experienced a situation like this in May”

Jörg Schulze, head of the institute for laboratory diagnostics and hospital hygiene at the Sana Klinikum Offenbach, also reports that the number of blood products that the hospital receives from the Hessian/Baden-Württemberg blood donation service and from the blood transfusion center of the Mainz University Medical Center is falling.

In cooperation with the two blood donation services, it can still be ensured that the supplies are sufficient to be able to treat sudden emergencies immediately at any time.

Operations have not yet been postponed.

The supply situation is also tense at the university hospitals in Giessen and Marburg.

"I have never experienced a situation like this in May," says Gregor Bein, head of the Institute for Clinical Immunology and Transfusion Medicine.

People can come to donate blood at both locations and are rewarded with an expense allowance of 25 euros - not much, but at least a small incentive, for example for students.

The clinics usually manage to cover 95 percent of the daily needs of the two houses through their own blood bank.

Only rarely do blood products, such as the erythrocyte concentrate, which consists mainly of red blood cells, have to be purchased.

According to Bein, the stock is currently shrinking faster than new donations are coming in.

He is also looking for explanations and finds them in connection with the corona pandemic.

Donors who have been infected with the virus have so far been deferred for a donation four weeks after their recovery, a reduction to two weeks is planned.

However, Bein doubts that the provision alone can explain the slump.

Perhaps after surviving an infection, some became more cautious about putting too much strain on the body, he suspects.

On average, the clinics in Gießen and Marburg need 110 blood donations a day.

For example, if a seriously injured person has to be treated after an accident, up to 80 blood units can be used up in a single operation.

According to Bein, if the situation does not improve after such a massive transfusion, the surgical plan for the next day will have to be adjusted in the future and, in extreme emergencies, planned interventions will have to be postponed.

"We're up against the wall." The reserves are currently sufficient for 1.5 days of normal operation.

do persuasion

Because there are always bottlenecks in the blood supply, research has been going on for years to improve the situation.

On the one hand, medical interventions that can be planned are being optimized in such a way that there is less and less blood loss during an operation.

On the other hand, attempts are being made to produce blood substitutes that are able to transport oxygen.

“Blood formation is a complicated process.

So far, red blood cells cannot be replaced – and it is not foreseeable either,” says Bein.

So it is still important to convince the citizens and to make the donation process as pleasant as possible.

For example, donations were reorganized in many places during the pandemic: fixed donation dates were intended to help avoid longer waiting times.

This procedure, according to the spokesman for the blood donation service, has proven itself and will be retained.

The only problem: If a donor does not come to the appointment, another cannot automatically move up.

That is why work is currently being done to improve the booking app so that it can react more flexibly to such situations.

The so-called "no-show rate", which indicates how many donors miss their appointment, has also increased in recent weeks, according to the spokesman.

Threatening sanctions is counterproductive, he says.

After all, people come voluntarily.

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