November 13, 2018 – 9:13 in the morning
It's been more than a year since Venezuelan Hematology Society (SVH) warned of "serious failure of reagents and supplies" that crossed the country's blood bank since mid-2017. Far from seeing solutions, economists cautioned that the crisis persisted despite the provision of reagents to the City Blood Bank
Between May and June this year, the country's main blood bank received a very rare reagent for detecting hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV, AIDS, syphilis and human lymphotropic viruses in blood donors. This allocation is enough to cover the next five months.
However, SVH warns that supplies do not include enough reagents to detect Chagas disease, the serological tests required by law for transfusions. The company also warns about the quality of reagents, which in many cases are not state-of-the-art and come from China.
"We don't manage blood the safest," Raiza García, SVH president, warned in an interview with Efecto Cocuyo. The hematologist explained that doctors have a "problem" with the quality of this reagent to detect the presence of blood donor infections.
For example, in the case of hepatitis C, the window period (the time at which the test can detect infection safely and definitively) from Chinese reagents for more than 30 days; while the inputs used in previous years were 20 days.
Garcia said that, despite the fact that the City Blood Bank received a large number of reagents, blood banks in Caracas and the whole country continued to show great failure and live in a very different reality.
Last Monday, November 5, the hospital blood bank Dr. Miguel Pérez Carreño woke up without a serological test. The previous Saturday, November 3, a patient was injured in the chest with a dead knife in the middle of the operation.
"He suffered an injury to the main artery and he lost a lot of blood. In the hospital there was no network for transfusion him and he needed about six bags of blood to make up for everything he had lost. We were tied up," complained a nurse Pérez Carreño.
SVH warns that state blood banks are not equipped to handle this type of accident or situation and regret that elective surgery is paralyzed in the hospital due to the absence of tissue.
"There is little blood there to respond to emergencies. Banks are not equipped with reagents and in Venezuela there is no culture of blood donation," said the company president.
Other supplies are lost
Garcia not only cares about the absence of reagents, but also the lack of supplies to treat blood. Something that is not escaped from the newly blessed City Bank.
"The City Bank is blessed, but there is a shortage of more than 90% of the supplies needed to work with blood," he said. One of them is a collection bag, where tissue is preserved.
The SVH president explained that the bags used to maintain blood were more than one year old and showed that the same specialists did not know what the implications for proper tissue conservation were.
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"Bags must be sterile, anticoagulant and they must have physical and chemical qualities so that blood is preserved in the right way. We don't know how expired materials can behave or if they can change the composition of the content prematurely because of its setback," he said.
The Venezuelan Hematology Institute increased the volume of complaints in early 2018, when the reagent crisis worsened. Since then, he has warned of this situation with national and international bodies: the Ministry of Health, the Office of Public Prosecutors, the Office of the Ombudsman and the Pan American Health Organization.
Only the Prosecutor's Office responded to SVH's communication and said that they must transfer the complaint to the Office of the Ombudsman.