Egyptians turn out massively to donate blood

The blood bank at Kasr Al-Eini hospital, a few hundred meters from downtown Cairo's Tahrir Square, where demonstrations continued into their sixth consecutive day, was overflowing with blood donors. The hospital lobby turned into a makeshift donation room in which 10 beds were laid out. All were occupied.

For Yasser Yehya, the medical secretary in charge of the blood bank, the turnout was amazing–and urgently needed.

“We’ve had serious shortages in the past couple of days. We’ve been admitting increasing numbers since yesterday. Especially after the events by the Ministry of Interior, the number climbed rapidly. Add to this that we’re a national center and we actually send blood to other hospitals and blood banks–we’re really overstretched”.

Asked whether blood donations were accepted in other hospitals across for people wishing to donate closer to home, Yehya said he was only aware of the two Kasr Al-Eini hospitals.

“Some people who came earlier are telling me they went to the central blood bank in Ramses and found no one there. I guess it’s part of the old regime–the regime that has fallen,” he said.

"We are unable to give an accurate estimation of the number of patients here–aside from the dead, there are those whom we treat and discharge on the spot, then the injured we admit, and among those there are many in a critical condition… we simply cannot keep track of the numbers,” said Yehya.

Kamal Mohamed, 39, looked incredulous when asked him why was there. “They need blood. We’re here. Simple as that. I heard a call for blood donations on television, so I came”.

Another patient came over to Yehya’s desk, says he saw a woman fainting outside, and asks whether donating is risky. “Absolutely not," Yehya replied.

"It’s perfectly safe and very few people experience any discomfort, and those are usually very worried first timers–they’re just very worried, that’s all.”

He went on to explain the donation process: “People are first subjected to a few tests to determine whether they're fit to donate. Then the blood itself is subjected to a number of tests to ensure it's safe to use. And it all takes about a day to process."

“I wish people knew how incredibly important it is for us that they donate blood," he continued. "I know they’d come out in far greater numbers. It takes really little effort, it’s perfectly safe, they get free medical tests, and most important, it saves lives.” 

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