Blood donations drop 12%

Several blood collection campaigns throughout the year did not prevent a 12% drop in donations in 2012, according to data from the Portuguese Blood and Transplantation Institute (IPST).

IPST President Hélder Trindade, speaking to TSF radio, said he believed changes on healthcare user fees for blood donors may have contributed to the reduction, as donors were previously exempt of these fees.

Trindade said: “I do not doubt that user fees may have influenced donors to give up, but surely there were other factors leading to fewer donations, such as transportation (to blood collection venues) and social factors.”

Numbers were made public the same day that the parliament discussed a proposal presented by left-wing party Bloco de Esquerda (BE) to reinstate healthcare user fee exemption for blood donors.

BE’s argument was that in Portugal there were never many incentives for people to donate blood, a situation that worsened during the current government’s tenure, which abolished the aforementioned exemption for donors, causing a “profound and understandable discontent among donors, who felt unappreciated and mistreated”.

BE further added that exempting blood donors from healthcare user fees would have little impact on public expenditure, in the face of the “precious and priceless gift of life”.

Blood stock in Portugal was never at risk, but the IPST and the Ministry of Health heavily campaigned in order to prevent a 16% drop – this could mean a reduction in supply to below 8,000 blood units, which is enough to last about a week.