This leads to a shortage, which affects other patients, according to Dr Salam bin Salim al Kindi, head of the department of haematology at Sultan Qaboos University Hospital (SQUH).
Transfusion to accident victims is causing quick depletion of stocks.
This blood could be stored for other patients, he said adding that after accident victims, people who need the blood are patients with hereditary blood disorders and surgeries.
“In this country, we need more than 5,000 units of blood per month but what is collected is about 2,000 units.” He added that SQUH needs to add 1,200 units of blood to the stock per month but is able to collect only half of this.
An official from the Ministry of Health said that in a year approximately 12,000 victims of traffic accidents are hospitalised and each victim may require 20 to 40 units of blood.
Dr Kindi said, “Suppose a hospital has attended to an accident victim the previous night, the stock gets depleted and blood transfusions scheduled for the next day get delayed. We somehow manage in such situations and make arrangements.”
Patients with congenital anaemia such as thalassaemia, or acquired conditions such as leukemia require periodic blood transfusions.
“So when there is a shortage, these patients get less than what they actually require, which means they have to visit the hospital again. There are occasions surgeries have been postponed due to such unforeseen blood shortage - wasting time and resources of both the patient and the doctor.”
He said usually victims of road accidents are taken to SQUH, Khoula or Armed Forces hospitals. “As SQUH is nearest to Sharqiyah, Dakhliyah and Batinah, many accident cases are brought to our hospital, putting pressure on our blood stock,” Dr Kindi said.
At a scientific level, there are currently no replacements for human blood, while research on artificial blood and a procedure called autotransfusion (cell salvage), is in initial stages.
In one of the autotransfusion methods, blood lost during surgery can be salvaged and reused after filtering it.
In the second method the patient donates his blood before going for surgery to use it when required.
However, the person must be capable of donating blood and the procedure is applicable to elective surgery and not emergency ones.
Dr Kindi said, “In 1980 Oman stopped importing blood, in line with World Health Organization recommendations, which means we need to be self-sufficient.
“The culture of voluntary blood donation in Oman is in its early stages and more donors needs to be encouraged to donate on a regular basis.”