Games will raise blood demand

Health officials warned yesterday that the August Olympics will create the need for an increase in blood donations, as the country’s requirements are expected to increase by some 15 percent during the Games. Greece requires some 615,000 blood units every year, about 3 percent of which is covered by imports from the Red Cross. However, according to Comstantina Politi, head of the Health Ministry’s committee for blood donation, an extra 91-92,000 units will be needed between the beginning of May and the end of September, due to the Games. Politi pointed out that blood reserves usually drop in the summer and during the Christmas and Easter holidays. The increased demand is generally attributed to a rise in road accidents during these periods. Last summer, press reports – subsequently denied by the Health Ministry – claimed that Greek hospitals were desperately short of blood, particularly in rare groups. Apart from emergencies, stocks must cover the needs of some 3,000 thalassemia sufferers, who require transfusions every 20 days.