Strict regulations for blood donations planned

The Health Ministry is introducing strict regulations to cover every aspect of blood donations and put an end to shortages and poor coordination. Yesterday the ministry made new draft legislation on the reorganization of blood donation services available for public debate. The bill envisages a system that will monitor blood donations by means of a central authority established in line with EU directives to coordinate blood donation services which currently operate independently and cooperate on an ad hoc basis. The bill confirms the principle of voluntary, unpaid blood donations and the penalty for infringing the law will be up to two years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to 300,000 euros. The draft bill proposes the establishment of a National Blood Donation Center (EKA) to be supervised by the Health Ministry. Its purpose will be to develop and promote the national blood donor system through the Ilias Politis National Blood Products Center and blood donor services at hospitals. The EKA will: – draw up blood donation regulations; – report to the health minister on the definition, authorization, accreditation and permits of donor units; – institute a «blood awareness» system to record all unwanted events related to collection, inspection, processing, storage and distribution of blood and blood products; – be responsible for the distribution, storage and renewal of stocks of blood, plasma, blood products, donor equipment and reagents; – determine which tests must be administered to blood donors and potential recipients; and – maintain an archive of all volunteer donors in Greece. The draft bill also stipulates that the health minister may decide to accept an EKA recommendation to allow private clinics which regularly perform blood transfusions to store and administer blood in order to meet their needs and to carry out the necessary tests for transfusions. Every year about 600,000 units of blood are required to meet the needs of Greek patients. Volunteer donations meet about 38 percent of that demand, while the rest comes from the patients’ family and friends, the armed forces and the Red Cross. Between 10,000-12,000 units are imported per year.